The heart of this album is found in pianist/composer Oscar Perez's trio with bassist Thomson Kneeland and drummer Alvester Garnett. Their four tracks showcase the cohesive sound they have developed together, Perez's elegant pianism matched by his empathetic partners. It's a modern piano trio, with a conversational style and all members contributing. There's enough trio music here to give a well-rounded picture of what they can do.
"Just Everything" opens the set with a trio version of a tune from Perez's first album. A bass solo leads into an exciting section of trading eights with the drums. "'Round Midnight" gives the Thelonious Monk ballad a Latin remake, inspired by mentor Danilo Pérez and the famous interlude from Miles Davis's arrangement. "Message to Monterey" is an upbeat waltz, which again features bassist Kneeland. Finally, Hoagy Carmichael's "The Nearness of You" shows their way with standards. A sly introduction hints at the tune before it is fully introduced, and the version closes with a lovely section of solo piano, bringing the rhythm section back at the end.
When alto saxophonist Bruce Williams joins in on "Headin' Over" the music swings even harder. Perez's "Snake Charm" is especially memorable, with its twisting, serpentine melody and distinctive groove, as well as Garnett's drum solo. The title tune is another lovely waltz (gospel-inspired), with a fine bass solo from Kneeland, while "Mushroom City" is built on an irresistible Brazilian baião rhythm. The closer "Song for Ofelia" has special personal meaning for Perez, a spirit that suffuses the performanceit's like a prayer, reminiscent of the rapturous sound of the John Coltrane Quartet.
An altogether impressive performance. Perez makes a strong impression as composer and pianist, and the band steps up to every challenge.
Just Everything; 'Round Midnight; Headin' Over; Snake Charm; Message To Monterey; The Nearness Of You; Prepare A Place For Me; Mushroom City; Song For Ofelia.
Oscar Perez: piano; Thomson Kneeland: bass; Alvester Garnett: drums; Bruce Williams: alto saxophone (3, 4, 7-9).