Pianist and composer Angelo Hart explores melodic textures and creates absorbing moods on the enjoyable and delightful In The Groove. Recorded in April 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic paralyzed the world, the aptly named album consists of six memorable originals which shimmer against a soulful and tense backdrop.
The unaccompanied "We Vibe" opens with funky dance beats over which ethereal keyboard lines gracefully flow. Hart embellishes the main theme with subtlety, showcasing his superlative pianism. As his percussive chords alternate with sparkling notes, the thumping vamps create a passionate and dark ambience. Hart's elegant improvisation demonstrates that this performance is about more than infectious rhythms and catchy hooks, it is an exercise in creativity.
Another solo piece, the melancholic "Light Year" is an introspective and lyrical acoustic poem. Half way through, electronic enhancements give the lullaby-like atmosphere, and the resonant harmonic cascades a light hearted buoyancy. By its conclusion the opening wistfulness has melted away into an optimistic up-tempo expression.
The title track features a trio, with bassist Shawn Sommer laying down an electric sinewy cadence, and drummer Reuben Garza contributing thundering beats. Again there are sound effects which enhance Hart's virtuosity and his vibrant spontaneity, as the sidemen and their percolating refrains create a supportive and dynamic setting for the leader.
Another drummer, Danya Thompson, joins Hart on the lithe and hypnotic "Strut." Within an other-worldly cinematic sonic scene, Thompson's kit pulsates with restless swagger. Hart plays an intricate and accessible extemporization replete with agile arpeggios. Understated and percolating synths close out this moving tune.
In The Groove is Hart's answer to the somber events that the virus caused worldwide. It is not only an artist's way of coping with the devastation of this global disaster but is also an affirmation of life and hope in the face of death and desperation. It is a testament to music's timeless ability to heal and inspire.
In The Groove; Light-Year; Strut; Daydream; Right Here With Me; We Vibe.
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