Pianist Greg Murphy's Orientation contains attractive original tunes delivered by a top-notch mainstream quintet. It opens with a bang with his kinetic, latin- flavored "Triple Dipple which tumbles along in 6/8, driven by a simple but appealing melody in Lawrence Clark's tenor sax. The three-feel of the meter soon alternates with swing and up-tempo bop sections in four-time, the effortless transitions revealing a deftly synchronous unit. (Alex Hernandez on bass and Noel Sagerman on drums complete the group.)
The title track is built in a seemingly irregular form with modal sections of syncopated, dense piano chords shifting colorfully between major and minor, while "Trane's Mode is a bop blues with a chord progression carrying a scent of Coltrane's classic "Mr. P.C. . The variety continues as Murphy shows several different sides of his musical personality. Two fusion numbers dominated by keyboards and electric bass, "Puffin Land and "Alternate Voices , form a break between the acoustic sections, while on two fine solo piano standards, the ballads "I Thought About You and "What's New , Murphy carries the melodies firmly yet fluidly on top of full, ten-fingered textures.
Pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba's Solo is a collection of impressionistic pieces that vacillates between wistful and sleepy. With pieces titled "Cancion para Dormir en el Sillón (Lullaby) , "Sueño de Muñecas (Dream of the Dolls) and "Silencio (all compositions by 20th-century Cuban composers), the impression is of Rubalcaba playing in a room with a sleeping infant whom he does not want to wake. The music sends one drifting off instead of compelling one's attention.
Solo is not without its interesting pieces, which include Rubalcaba's series of improv-compositions, "Paseo Iluminado , "Paseo en Media Luz , "Paseo Azul and "Paseo Morado . "Prólogo (Prolog to a Fantasy) is the high point on the album and literally the only up-tempo track out of 15, infused with bouncy dance rhythms, flashy right hand octave lines and a catchy melody taken from a Cuban popular song.
Tracks and Personnel
Tracks: Triple Dipple; Orientation; Trane's Mode; I Thought About You; Keeping It Simple; Puffin Land; Alternate Voices; What's New; Cedar Salad' A Strain from Wayne
Personnel: Greg Murphy: piano and keyboards; Raphael Cruz: percussion; Alex Hernandez: acoustic and electric bass; Noel Sagerman: drums; Lawrence Clark: tenor saxophone.
Tracks: Rezo; Quasar; Silencio; Paseo Iluminado; Canción para Dormir en el Sillón; Paseo en Media Luz; Canción de Cuna del Niño Negro; Faro; Paseo Azul; Sueño de Muñecas; Paseo Morado; Prólogo; Here's That Rainy Day; Nightfall; Besame Mucho.
Personnel: Gonzalo Rubalcaba: piano.