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Joey Calderazzo's solo piano album gives him plenty of room for exploration. He moves gracefully through a program of originals and familiar tunes. Some are up-tempo, outgoing and bright, while others turn loose an introspective nature. The pianist explores jazz from several angles.
It was the parlor pianist of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century who paved the way for jazz’s roots. The audience was attracted to the spontaneity and freedom that ragtime and early jazz espoused. On Haiku, Calderazzo employs that freedom to chase his dreams and live them through the instrument.
Branford Marsalis’ dark composition “A Thousand Autumns” and Calderazzo’s own “Haiku” paint mournful pictures and commingle them with broader landscapes. What happens is that the artist is able to steer his way through each succeeding scene naturally. He moves seamlessly from one picture to the next, painting the details in gently as he goes.
There are general connections to the great body of jazz music that has affected us all for more than a century. “The Legend of Dan” recalls the natural texture of Gershwin’s “Summertime.” “Bri’s Dance” flirts with rhythm the way Dave Brubeck’s quirky-metered pieces do. Throughout the piece and its reprise, Calderazzo’s blazing fast pace keeps you on the front edge of your chair. “Chopin” emphasizes a simple, open harmony, while Kenny Kirkland’s “Dienda” allows Calderazzo to examine denser, two-handed chords.
Whether pensive and introspective in his chambers, or barrel-rolling with parlor antics in the rec room, he approaches the music with lyricism and passion. Haiku finds Calderazzo at his best, creating music that everyone can find enjoyable.