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Justin Salisbury: Evergreen

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Justin Salisbury: Evergreen
Where do you start if you want to play at Carnegie Hall? Growing up in the small town of Clatskanie, Oregon, is probably not the obvious choice. Pianist Justin Salisbury has certainly put in the miles, playing in France, Egypt, China, Cambodia, Italy and North America as well as Carnegie Hall. He was aided in that journey by a move to Boston to study at Berklee College and by learning from other pianists on the Boston scene, including Ray Santisi, JoAnne Brackeen and Alon Yavnai. Salisbury, now resident in New York, has also collaborated with musicians as diverse as Mike Stern, Marko Djordjevic and Rodney Green.

For his debut album Evergreen, Salisbury forms a trio with bassist Max Salinger-Ridley and drummer Dan Nadeau. Their contribution is of the highest order, providing serious ensemble skills and the ideal foil for Salisbury's piano style. There are ten tracks, all composed by Salisbury.

Opening track "Go" is fresh and absorbing. Introduced with brisk drumming, Salisbury moves in with a long, constant stream of melodic phrases and displaced accents. Salinger-Ridley provides a lyrical bass solo as Nadeau bends the rhythms and finds spaces to creatively enhance. "Ciro" is another highlight. Its light opening melody builds as Salisbury delivers a long, continuously flowing piano exploration. His notes cascade as the melody ebbs and flows, finally leading to a solo from Salinger-Ridley before a repeating piano phrase allows Nadeau to conclude with well-judged rhythmic invention. Gentle, melancholy bass leads into the title track. Salisbury's reflective piano takes over, tranquil and serene, before blending with the bass. Nadeau knows less is more, holding back to the minimum while allowing the warmth and reflective beauty of the ballad to expand.

"Sangha" is a narrative solo piano piece. Salisbury's pulsing left hand is suggestive of steady movement that gradually increases pace to suggest progress to something happier. Salisbury sets up the melody on the fast-moving "Barang Barang" before embarking on flowing multi-note phrases. Salinger-Ridley's arco bass takes centre stage before the piano drives the track home. The melodic twists and turns of "No Face" highlight the interplay between the trio, with imaginative sections led by bass and drums.

This is a firm amalgam of elegant musical skills. Salinger-Ridley's inventive pliability as a bassist and Nadeau's nuanced rhythmic accents allow Salisbury to launch his long and resourceful runs. There are high standards of contemporary composition and performance. With ever-evolving melodic investigation and intelligent improvisation, those attracted to the piano trio format should find much to admire.

Track Listing

Go; Let life = true; Ciro; Aurelius; Sangha; Interlude; No Face; Barang Barang; Evergreen; Cornelia.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Evergreen | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: GleAM Records


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