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The title of Impromptu is somewhat misleading. All three musicians in this trio have lightning-quick reflexes and great improvisational skills that certainly help to make instant magic, but the songs themselves aren't off-the-cuff creations as the title might imply. Pianist Bob Mamet has crafted ten catchy charts in a variety of styles and leaves plenty of solo space to spare.
The first two tracks"Impromptu" and "Cats On The Roof"are comfortable swing vehicles that introduce Mamet's playing without getting too personal. His deft touch and graceful right hand lines move over the rhythm section with a sense of ease. A brief cascading stream of notes on the title track hints at things to come. Drummer Joe LaBarbera's brushes actively sweep and keep the beat dancing on "Venice Waltz," while the trio really hits its mark with "At Play." This up-tempo burner is driven by an insistent figure from bassist Darek Oles that's doubled by Mamet's left hand. While everybody shines on this one, La Barbera's soloing is the real focal point.
"Until Morning" shows off Mamet's beautiful ballad writing, and comes off like a less gloomy, distant relative of the classic "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning." The bass and left hand doubling are used to good effect as Oles and Mamet lay down a riff on "Danzon Allegretto." An occasional cavernous left hand note comes from Mamet as the song continues, and he throws out some energetic and zestful runs. "Bob's Blues" starts out like standard supper club jazz fare, but quickly becomes a tour-de-force display of musicianship from all three participants. Solo trading, first between Mamet and Oles, and later with Mamet and LaBarbera, is the order of the day on this one, and Mamet's tasty technique is on full display.
The deeply soulful "Illinois Road" is a standoutmore for mood and sheer melodic pleasure than for musicianshipand all three men keep their chops in check as they work in service of the song. "Keziah" begins with a classical-meets-tango vibe, but takes on a samba-ish feel when the music takes off. La Barbera's bouncy soloing is a treat here and Mamet is on fire again. A reprise of the title track, while slightly unnecessary, brings the album full circle. In summary, Impromptu = Impressive.
Track Listing: Impromptu; Cats On The Roof; Venice Waltz; At Play; Until Morning; Danzon Allegretto; Bob's Blues; Illinois Road; Keziah; Impromptu (Reprise).
Personnel: Bob Mamet: piano; Darek Oles: bass; Joe La Barbera: drums.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.