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Who said "those who can't play teach ? It's not necessarily true, as some of the best jazz musicians can be found hiding out in institutions of higher learning. Laszlo Gardony is a case in point: Hungarian-born and Boston-bred (he attended Berklee School of Music), the classically trained pianist/composer has been nurturing the creative talents of jazz's next generation for some years now.
His latest release, Natural Instinct, features drummer Yoron Israel and fellow Beantowner John Lockwood, a bassist best known for his work with The Fringe (one of free jazz's best kept secrets, featuring tenor saxophonist George Garzone and drummer/percussionist Bob Gulloti). The disc contains a mix of original tunes and covers, the latter rendered with Gardony's subtle yet signature reharmonizations and melodic embellishments. The pianist's chops are flawless, making his complex rhythmic permutations and fleet lyricism sound effortless and off-the-cuff. Never overplaying, Gardony offers up short and succinctly constructed solos that serve the tunes.
Drummer Israel is the consummate accompanist, generously supporting the pianist with an understated eloquence that, ironically, makes it easy to understand why he may be one of the most underrated drummers in the biz. Lockwood, too, says more with less; subtle and supple, he steps out briefly for a few moments, particularly on "Thinking of Stella, where his counterpoint is uncannily empathetic. Without forcing the issue, Gardony and cohorts have allowed a wonderful collaboration to take place, like a conversation between old friends who are not in a hurry to talk each other's ears off. Let's hope his students are listening too.
Track Listing: Natural Instinct; Revolution; Hidden Message; Motherless Child; Me & My Echo; Waking Dreams; Thinking of Stella; Peace; Softly (As in a Morning Sunrise); Someone; Us & the Night & the Music.
Personnel: Laszlo Gardony: piano; John Lockwood: bass; Yoron Israel: drums.