Pianist and composer Kevin Fort follows his extraordinary debut, Red Gold (CD Baby, 2014), with another tip of the hat to jazz standards and the modern tradition; Perspectives is a musical package nicely filled with new arrangements of six classics and four new originals, performed by a standard piano trio. For more than twenty years an in-demand player in Chicago's talent-rich jazz scene, Fort is also an educator, currently lecturing at the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music.
As with his previous recording, the pianist joins forces with Chicago drummer Jon Deitemyer, known as one of the most versatile voices in modern jazz drumming, and, this time, features educator and bandleader double bassist Joe Policastro to form one of the finest working piano trios in the business.
Opening the session with a bright, swinging arrangement of the Axel Stordahl, Paul Weston and Sammy Cahn classic "I Should Care," the pianist and crew bring the keys, splashing cymbals and sturdy bass lines to the fore on a wonderful beginning. The band is a bit more tempered on the lighter Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart standard "You're Nearer," except, of course, Fort whose piano solos are exceptional here.
The band turns to the softer side with a warm performance on the balladic "Stairway to the Stars" before returning with some heat on the leader's first original, "Fortified," introduced by the thunder drumming of Deitemyer and quickly followed by the pianist and bassist, all kicking in high gear on another swinging number. Two of the many keepers of this set have to be "Mental Enigma" and "Hollywood Beach," two Fort originals definitely worth repeated spins.
The trio deliver beautiful treatments of classics from Leonard Bernstein ("Luck to Be Me"), Bernice Petkere & Joe Young ("Lullaby of the Leaves") and Thelonious Monk ("Ask Me Now") before closing the session with the last original composition "B's Waltz" another sure keeper and perfect finale.
Perspectives is pianist Kevin Fort's way of paying homage to the bebop sound and keeping the straight-ahead tradition alive and well. Of course, it is quite possible that Fort's perspective on the music of jazz is already commonly shared by many musicians and audiences alike. The pianist's affinity for the classics and his impeccable writing, evidenced by the quality of his originals, seem to be a recipe for success, now having produced two appealing musical statements in his discography.
I Should Care; You're Nearer; Stairway to the Stars; Fortified; Mental Enigma; Hollywood Beach; Lucky to Be Me;
Lullaby of the Leaves; Ask Me Now; B's Waltz
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