Simplicity and sophistication are not mutually exclusive, especially when it comes to music. Jazz pianist and educator Jeff Gardner's trio disc Breath
illustrates the point extremely well. The setting is a pared down, piano-led trio. The tunes are straightforward, mellifluous and serve as launching pads for very sophisticated improvisations.
The music, all composed by Gardner, is in the post-bop vein, and its introspective nature has hints of modern classical styles. The pianist has the lion's share of solos with solid ensemble playing; the bass and the drums providing a supportive environment for Gardner. His playing is very reminiscent of Bill Evans, especially the innovative pianist's earlier trio recordings, but spiced up with modernistic elements.
There's enough variability and virtuosity to hold one's interest throughout. The opening "Jazz Prelude 9" is a Latin-tinged bluesy number, punctuated by the leader's flowing solos. The title track is highlighted by a brief but impressive Ron Carter-esque bass solo from Drew Gress. "Rosa is Gardner's emotional tribute to his wife, starting with lean piano lines, then bowed bass joining in for a few choruses and gently touched cymbals completing the picture.
The rest of the CD is mostly ballads of different tempos with an occasional bop-ish number mixed in. The penultimate "Planet Shantytown, with its highly original drum solo, is certainly one of the highlights. Last is a moody, nocturne-like piece which serves as an appropriate ending. Breath
is an interesting and well-conceived recording that, while not necessarily breaking new ground, has a sophisticated simplicity that deserves better recognition.
Track Listing: Jazz Prelude 9; Breath; Rosa; Talk About It; Vals Criollo; Lambran
Personnel: Jeff Gardner: piano; Anthony Pinciotti: drums; Drew Gress: bass.
Year Released: 2006
| Record Label: Terramar
| Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream