Since the advent of pianist Bill Evans
' groundbreaking late 1950s/early 1960s group with drummer Paul Motian
and bassist Scott LaFaro
, piano trios have been largely focused on interplay. On his debut, Oltreoceano
, Italian-born bassist Andrea Veneziani
employs a trio very much in the Evans fashion, with pianist Kenny Werner
(with whom Veneziani studied in the NYU Masters' program) and swinging and interactive drummer Ross Pederson
Werner is a superb choice of pianists for an exploration of the Evans-style piano trio. A vibrant improviser with a sometimes supple, sometimes sharp touch, and a deep feel for harmonic complexities, he shapes beautiful melodic contours and free form ruminations. Like Evans, Werner's playing is like a healing religion that is cerebral while hugely engaging. And, after his large ensemble masterpiece, No Beginning, No End
(High Note Records, 2010), and the live quintet set, Balloons
(High Note Records, 2011), it is a joy to hear him once again showcased in a trio setting.
In terms of trio dynamics, Veneziani's compares well with Evans' group from the early 1970s with longtime bassist Eddie Gomez
and drummer Marty Morell
. Veneziani is an assertive bassist with a strong, sharp tone. He solos superbly on Evans' classic, "Time Remembered," accompanied masterfully by Werner and Pederson.
Veneziani proves to be a distinctive tunesmith, with his scrambled and frenetic "Traffic," his beautifully reflective "Night Flight," and "Mark Rothko," his grey-shaded, minor key nod to the American abstract painter, which opens with a ringing bass solo. Veneziani opens the set with the short "Free Episode #1," one of three improvised interludes slipped in among his originals and well-chosen covers. These include a bouncing, full speed ahead take on alto sax legend Charlie Parker
's "Segment," as well as a fresh examination of "Pannonica," from piano icon Thelonious Monk
is a recording that demands multiple spins. New crags and facets of the music are revealed with repeated listening. Werner is exquisitely creative, and the trio is superbly interactive on this remarkable debut album from Andrea Veneziani.