Pianist Roberta Piket
sat down at her instrument alone on Solo
(Thirteenth Note Records, 2012). It was her first recording in the format, after and marvelous series of trio and quartet sets. An artist known for her "inside/outside" abilities and a cerebral yet emotive approach to piano, her recording debut as a solo artist was unabashedly beautiful and straight ahead, with much familiar turf: Wayne Shorter
's "Nefertiti," saxophonist Sam Rivers' perfect "Beatrice," the American Songbook jewel "I See Your Face Before Me." Emanation
, Piket's second go at solo piano lines up nicely with her first attempt, with perhaps more of an edge, opening with the familiar "Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise." It is a craggy, dark-hued take on the tune. Piket's virtuosity and intensity are on full display on a bumpy ride that leads into the Howard Dietz/ Arthur Swartz gem, "Haunted Heart." Ruminative and deliberate in her approach, employing, again, dark tone, the tune here is packed with a sense of deep yearning and unrelentingbut beautifulsadness.
As on Solo
, Piket's sequencing skills are top shelf, as she follows up the melancholy of the openers with trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie
's "Con Alma," an always vibrant tune that Piket injects with a crafty rollick and a slightly off-kilter ebullince.
"Saying Goodbye," one of three Piket originals, rivals Gordon Jenkins' classic "Goodbye" (not included here) as the saddest song in the world. Piket treats the emotional shadings with an inevitability, a teardrop spilling down a cheek, a farewell that can't be avoided or postponed.
With Roberta Piket, the spirit of Thelonious Monk
is usually lurking around the next corner. She is a brilliant Monk interpreter, whether it "Monk's Dream" on Solo
or "Ba Lue Bolivar Blues" here. She takes the angles and bends them out further, or twists them back in, with pounding percussion alternating with the finest, most exquisite keyboard touch. Emanation
is a brilliant solo piano outing, darker and a bit edgier than its predecessor, Solo
, but every bit as bold and beautiful.
Softly, As In A Morning Sunrise; Haunted Heart; Con Alma; Saying
Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are; Emanation; All The Things You Are; Ambiance;
Fantasy On A Theme By Chopin.