With five solo piano selections and several with guests in tow, Joey Calderazzo gently squeezes tender melodies from the piano in a program of muted eloquence. He caresses the keys in a fluid manner, adding in blue notes and consonant harmonic gestures to maintain balance. Calderazzo loves to "sing through his piano pieces, providing a fragrant adventure for each tune that's designed to instill lyrical simplicity.
The pianist, 42, has made an impression during the past two decades with the bands of Michael Brecker and Branford Marsalis. His subtle grasp of a melody's lyrical texture along with his knowing harmonic awareness makes him an ideal musical partner. As a soloist, he's creative, but never overboard. Calderazzo prefers, instead, to maintain a smooth texture and a low profile with his musical statements. Volume dynamics enter into his performance only peripherally, while spontaneity and surprise take a back seat to spiritual beauty. Like the dawn of a long vacation, the pianist's program oozes gently as if waking from a deep sleep and slowly getting acquainted with the day.
Calderazzo's interpretation of the standard "I've Never Been in Love Before differs from the rest of his program in that it churns with cascading animation and excitement. Here, he lets himself go and comes up with a winner.
With singer Claudia Acuña and guitarist Romero Lubambo on "Lara and "Amanecer, he allows the piano to drift gently as if in a dream. The interpretations turn on gradual gearwheels that languish unhurried.
The pianist's solo excursion on Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby squeezes beauty from its presence as the morning dew awaits the sun. Coaxing its theme casually in a mellow mood, Calderazzo manages to convey his love for the piece. From his fingers down to his toes, he's enamored of his work, and it shows.
Midnight Voyage; Sea Glass; Toonay; Amanecer; The Lonely Swan; I