Sameer Ramchandran makes a commendable debut on this recording, which profiles his skills as a pianist and composer. He and bassist Dominic Duval were jamming in New York for two years. When Ramchandran saw Newman Taylor Baker at a show, he pulled the drummer into the fold. The trio now have Roundabout under their wing.
Ramchandran balances the album with originals and standards. Among the latter are tunes from Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk, which he successfully turns to his own vantage point. The trio establishes a quick rapport on Evans' "Very Early, meshing in as Ramchandran fleshes the melody with emphasis and a finely honed swing. Baker accents with a light flex and Duval gets right in there with a measured beat. But Ramchandran is an essayist, and he goes on to write elaborate lines which are strengthened by his sense of harmony. "Trinkle Tinkle has a stop-start intro, but once the trajectory starts flowing, the pianist uses flowery phrases to augment his lines. His take on these two tunes stamps his attributes as a player who is comfortable with different concepts.
Ramchandran writes some pretty good tunes. The hard-driving "Water Stone has a boppish flavour, but it does not slip into that stream completely. The pianist complements agile runs with clusters of notes and then changes the tempo. Into the evolving landscape comes Duval with a resonant solo that gives the rhythm a deeper current. The trio evokes an exploratory mood on "The Whispering-Wood, which gives the players room to explore and carve images of their own vision. Ramchandran gets into odd metres, his path reflective, his companions lending an emphatic voice.
There are a lot of good things going on here. It's time to sit up and take notice of this trio.
Roundabout; Very Early; The Whispering-Wood; Summer Night; Till There Was You; The Summer Knows; Water Stone; Trinkle, Tinkle; All of You.
Sameer Ramchandran: piano; Dominic Duval: bass; Newman Taylor Baker: drums.
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