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Ryan Slatko: First Impressions

Dan McClenaghan By

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Pianist Ryan Slatko opens his debut disc, First Impressions, with a drum rumble that kicks into some two-sax harmony moving ahead on a slick momentum. It catches the ear with its concise polish. The tune: The Slako-penned "Green Ceiling." When Slatko slips into his solo—full of vitality and crisp new ideas—the flag goes up: an exciting newcomer announces his arrival.

That opening burns the barn down; it features solo room all around inside an unrelenting rhythm—nods tho bassist Linda Oh and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr., who also produced the set.

Slatko cements the template with the second offering, "Prospect Of Love," another original. A compelling composition over a bedrock of solid rhythm.

In addition to his own first-rate writing, Slatko and his ensemble of shifting players visit Thelonious Monk's "Evidence" with a sprightly verve, followed up by Donald Brown's "Waltz for Monk," the most ruminative sound of the set. Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies" sparkles in the beginning, sounding like storm clouds that had been looming on the horizon are drifting in. Those clouds arrive; the tempo shifts, and the sun breaks through again.

Also in the set list: a particularly pretty take on Bruno Martino's "Estate," featuring the shine of Joel Ross's vibraphone trading moments with Slatko's piano.

A fine debut recording that maintains cohesive mood from start to finish.

Track Listing: Green Ceiling; Prospect Of Love; Sister Chromatids; The Haze; Blue Skies (Irving Berlin); 6. Estate; There Is Only Now; Evidence (Thelonious Monk); Waltz For Monk (Donald Brown); Slat Strut; Will Things Ever Be The Same.

Personnel: Daniel Dickinson: alto/soprano saxophone; Linda Oh: acoustic bass; Ulysses Owens, Jr.: drums; Joel Ross: vibraphone; and Samir Zarif: tenor saxophone.

Title: First Impressions | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

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