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Bob Albanese Trio: One Way/Detour

John Patten By

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In 2008, pianist Bob Albanese took his trio into a studio to do an unplanned recording while performing in Florida, spinning a collection of first and second takes with saxophonist Ira Sullivan that became One Way/Detour.

As a composer, Albanese uses rhythm to lay the groundwork for his compositions. He builds on spare harmonic and modal ideas, which are bolstered by steady support from Tom Kennedy on bass and Willard Dyson on drums, to create solid original works. The group doesn't stray far from traditional arrangements on the standards and covers on the release, but serves them up in competent fashion.

Sullivan first appears on "Yesterday's Gardenias," where he uses smooth bebop lines on tenor sax to rework the melody, adding a touch of the blues before Albanese solos. Sullivan appears occasionally unsure of where he's going, but then since the recording was not rehearsed, it adds to the charm. He is featured on the release's covers—Thelonious Monk's "Ugly Beauty," "Midnight Sun" by Sonny Burke, Lionel Hampton and Johnny Mercer—and two versions of Albanese's "Friendly Fire."

The release includes seven takes on Albanese compositions, all of which are mid-tempo modal outings. Albanese finds a lot of room to work within these constraints, however, and seldom seems at a loss for ideas.

"Morning Nocturne"—featuring a hypnotic descending piano melody line, harmonized by Kennedy, that cycles around as Albanese improvises over it—really pops. The effect is simultaneously energizing and relaxing.

Although solidly done throughout, the musicians feel a bit timid—whether because of their playing or the mixing it's hard to tell. Kennedy's solos, for example, barely stand out against the comping and percussion supporting him on several tunes.

These points may be reflections of the unusual circumstances noted in the liner notes for the recording, which suggest the date was almost as improvised as the tunes. If that's the case, the Bob Albanese Trio has a lot going for it—credible musicianship, solid improvisations and Albanese's original compositions.


Track Listing: Major Minority; Yesterday's Gardenias; One Way/Detour; Morning Nocturne; Joyful Noise; Ugly Beauty; Waiting For Louis; Midnight Sun; Friendly Fire; More Friendly Fire.

Personnel: Bob Albanese: piano; Tom Kennedy: bass; Willard Dyson: drums; Ira Sullivan: tenor sax (2, 9, 10), soprano sax (8), alto flute (6), percussion (4).

Title: One Way/Detour | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Zoho Music

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