One interesting aspect of this recording relates to eminent pianist Aaron Goldberg (Kurt Rosenwinkel, Joshua Redman) reuniting with cutting-edge drummer, Leon Parker in Paris. Back in the 1990s, the artists' connected for a gig, but Goldberg was initially indoctrinated to the drummer's performances with pianists, Jacky Terrasson, Brad Mehldau and other notables. But as the press release notes, Parker moved to France in 2001 and took a self-imposed sabbatical from playing. At the peak of his notoriety, he dropped out of the jazz scene, although this album duly rekindles his personalized methodology and keen ability to morph the drums into an improvisational instrument amid loquacious dialogues and trade-offs with Goldberg. Oh, and he's a near flawless timekeeper.
Goldberg has emerged as a major force in modern jazz. He possesses Art Tatum-like speed and dexterity, evidenced by whirling chord progressions and shimmering harmonic block chords while also integrating a light touch and temperance into the more sensitive spots. Hence, the trio launches the festivities with Simon and Bernier's "Poinciana," which was pianist Ahmad Jamal's signature piece. And it's a delightful rendering, complete with Parker's body tapping percussion cadence and wordless vocals that generate a bit of counterpoint to Goldberg's execution of the main theme. But towards the bridge Parker stirs it up via melodic tribal chants as the pianist etches the infectious melody with trickling notes in the upper registers.
The trio performs two of vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson's pieces, "Isn't This My Sound Around Me" and "When You Are Near." On the later, bassist Matt Penman's limber intro and Parker's subtly forceful brushes provide a streamlined pulse to coincide with Goldberg's gently swinging groove and buoyant lyricism: he dances across the keys, abetted by harmonic block chords and a bottom-up, top-down mode of attack. They also cover McCoy Tyner's "Effendi" with a medium-tempo swing groove and the pianist's gliding and dazzling work, complemented by his reverse-engineering and call and response breaks with Parker, and "Black Orpheus (Manha de Carnaval)" serves as a strong improvisational vehicle as Goldberg reimagines the tuneful hook. Not only is the well-travelled Goldberg at the edge of the world, he's also at the top of his game here.
Poinciana; Luaty; Isn't This My Sound Around Me; When You Are Near; Effendi; En La Orilla Del Mundo; Black Orpheus (Manha de Carnaval); Tokyo Dream.
Aaron Goldberg: piano; Matt Penman: bass; Leon Parker: drums, vocal percussion & embodirhythm.