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Gianni Lenoci / Kent Carter / Bill Elgart: Plaything

John Sharpe By

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Italian pianist Gianni Lenoci forms one apex of a trio with almost unlimited collective nous on Plaything. There are main two reasons for that: Kent Carter on bass and Bill Elgart on drums, both veterans of the 1964 October Revolution in Jazz, who have since carved niches for themselves in Europe. Carter 's early exposure arrived as part of a trio with pianist Paul Bley, though he may still be best known for his tenure in the groups of saxophonist Steve Lacy from 1965 through to 1982. Elgart also featured with Bley, and later took sideman gigs with trumpeters Kenny Wheeler and Tomasz Stanko among others. Lenoci himself studied with Bley and also pianist Mal Waldron.

Perhaps not surprising then that the trio operates in that sphere of which the Canadian is the most celebrated denizen which combines freewheeling invention with romantic rumination. In an equilateral triangle of highly attuned interplay, no one point dominates. Lenoci covers all the bases being variously lyrical, bluesy and adventurous with piano preparations. Elgart generates a buoyant intermittent swing, which veers into commentary in his clattering and tapping momentum. His attention to detail is fabulous as his choices of pitch and timbre always seem exactly right. Carter meanwhile excels in melodic counterpoint to the pianist's musings.

Their's convinces as a quirky take on the traditional piano trio format in which the charts remain mysterious and understated. That's especially the case for Carter's title cut in which the darkly rolling tune comes interspersed with silence and abstract noise, before a passage of open fluid give and take which gradually references the thematic material. Five of the seven numbers on this limited edition LP stem from Lenoci's pen. Of these the choppy "Splinter" boasts the only obvious solo of the set, as Elgart delivers a precise drum outing, amid the tension which comes from three not quite meshing lines.

In a change of pace, the improv approach comes to the fore on the colloquy of sparse sounds and creaking interjections which fashion "Leeway." Carter shines on the ballads. His sighing bass serenades first Lenoci then Elgart on the luminous "Contusion." Then on the drummer's closing "Drift" his booming slurs presage a marvelous interchange with the pianist. In fact the set overflows with accomplished and meaningful interaction with richness to savor at every level.

Track Listing: Plaything; Splinter; Contusion; Spider Diagram; Leeway; Kretek; Drift.

Personnel: Gianni Lenoci: piano; Kent Carter: bass; Bill Elgart: drums.

Title: Plaything | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

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