With so many musical directions going on throughout Alan Broadbent's career from day to day, it's good that he always finds time for creative sessions with his straight-ahead trio. Over the years, each of his trio recordings has given us a memorable performance, while his nightclub sessions leave everyone in the room with musical souvenirs to carry around inside for months at a time. You don't forget the kind of swinging quality that Broadbent brings to the forum.
As its title suggests, 'Round Midnight provides a taste of the mood that this pianist's trio engagements offer the Los Angeles jazz scene. Nobody does it better. Clear and sparkling, Broadbent's piano magic mixes tradition with fresh musical ideas. Revered melodies take on a new life. Within a lyrical framework, he explores the reasons behind our love for these favorite songs, locating the heart of each and then running with it in an adventurous exploration.
Bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Joe LaBarbera think the same way, and the trio finds creative juices swirling behind every phrase. None of their work ever turns out as if it's been there before. The trio's performances are always spontaneous, fresh and alive.
'Round Midnight surges with emotional warmth. The pianist allows sensual cascades to portray his feelings, while underlying harmonies glisten in the mist. He transports you from where you're listening to one of Los Angeles' local nightspots, where you're surrounded by folks who enjoy the music as much as you do. Bromberg steps forward with a lovely solo that brings a hush to the room. His bass seems to weep tears of joy as he lets each phrase ring collectively at its closing. Double stops and quick-running spurts infuse the song's theme with subdued fire. LaBarbera's wire brushes provide the essential textures while he lays down a solid rhythmic foundation that migrates from mellow balladry to a leisurely stroll, a romantic Latin aside, and a closing rubato dream.
From up-tempo bebop and swing to mellow ballads that swirl with passion, Broadbent's program covers it all. Holding on to what has been handed down, still putting a personal stamp on each selection, he's brought us a new album that not only comes highly recommended, but essential.