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Michael Pagan Quintet: Is Waiting for You

Jack Bowers By

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Not at all what was foreseen, and so much for one’s preconceived notions. Knowing that Cadence Records has a tendency to veer toward the avant–garde, I suspected that this date by pianist Pagán’s quintet might answer to that description. Not so. I’ve checked and double–checked, and you can rest assured that Pagán delivers the whole package — melody, harmony and rhythm — in abundance. Beyond that, he is an eye–opening and ear–catching pianist, technically sound and conspicuously resourceful, who writes about as well as he plays, which is quite well indeed. Pagán, who teaches at the University of Colorado in Boulder, composed six of the eight songs on Is Waiting for You (the others are the standard “My Old Flame” and pianist Bill Evans’ playful “Show–Type Tune”), and each one has charm to spare. Although billed as a quintet, there are only two selections — “Bossa for Betty” and “Show–Type Tune” — on which all five members play as a unit. On four numbers, Pagán is accompanied only by Fedewa and Brothers, while Morgan is featured with the trio on “My Old Flame,” Holland on “To Billy Strayhorn” (on which his mellow flugelhorn never strays). Morgan’s Lovano–like tenor brightens “Flame,” which is outstanding, but so is everything else (dig how Pagán deftly inserts a quote from “Old Man River” and Morgan from “Slow Boat to China” on “Show–Type Tune”). After the first few bars of “Trio Etude,” I was hooked. I suspect you may be too.

Track Listing: Trio Etude; My Old Flame; Crazy Man’s Game; To Billy Strayhorn; Bossa for Betty; Is Waiting for You; Show–Type Tune; Stay in Your Lane (54:44).

Personnel: Michael Pagán, piano; Ken Morgan, tenor sax; Rick Holland, trumpet, flugelhorn; Ed Fedewa, bass; Michael Brothers, drums.

Title: Is Waiting for You | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: Cadence Jazz Records

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