One listener's opinion concerning the necessary components for a successful piano trio outing: one, the bass/drum combo have to rise above the accompanist rolls for an assertive and imaginative rhythm approach. Two, the melodic voice must be a strong one; and three, chances must be taken, the listener surprised.
Keith Jarrett's Up For It (ECM Records, 2003) and Brad Mehldau's Anything Goes (Warner Brothers, 2004) are two recent examples that follow, in their individualistic ways, this formula. As does George Genna on Chain of Events.
George Genna's career path has led him to working with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Jerry Lewis, Chubby Checker, Leslie Gore ("You Don't Own Me") and the Pointer Sisters. Nice work if you can get it, but constraining, one can imagine, in terms of the pianist's own personal expression. But with Chain of Events, Genna's first piano trio solo, he gets to to express a fertile musical imagination.
The set includes the familiar Mancini/Mercer tunes, "Moon River" and "Days of Wine and Roses," Burke and VanHeusen's "It Could Happen to You," the Lennon/McCartney song "With a Little Help From My Friends," Arlen Koehler's "I'll Wind," a gorgeous take on "Deep In A Dream," plus four fine Genna originals that sound as though they could fit in the American Songbook.
Genna and the trio take some chances, givng some of the familiar melodies their own idiosyncratic twists, enlivening "Moon River," giving it an up-tempo edginess, while maintaining a accessible level of reverence; and giving "With A Little Help From My Friends" a very lovely and introspectively melancholy feel, while his original, "Breezeway" hits an up-tempo groove and cruises along smoothly on Gary Mazzaroppi and Bill Jones' (bass and drums) roll-down-the-highway rhythm.
A piano trio outing that rises above the pack via top level musicianship on a set of creative covers of familiar tunes alongside Genna's distinctive originals.
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