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Roberta Piket: Sides, Colors

Dan McClenaghan By

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Back in earlier days, when the vinyl, 33 RPM long playing record was the way to listen to music, Roberta Piket's Sides, Colors would have been released as a double disc, with its generous seventy-six minutes of music and two distinctly different moods. After her beautiful piano trio outing, Love and Beauty (Thirteenth Note Records, 2007), Piket now spreads her wings with the subtle addition of strings and horns to her trio 's sound.

The first half of the CD, labeled "Side A" on the back cover, is the "Strings" side, opening with Piket exploring Bill Evan's pensive, and very pretty "Laurie," soloing for over a minute-and-a-half, until the brief breath of strings and wind instruments blows in, and then out again, to leave the pianist in another solo interlude until drummer Billy Mintz whispers on his brushes. The mini-orchestra returns later, slipping in and out of the mix, deftly utilized.

Jules Styne's "Make Someone Happy" struts in on Mintz's brush bounce, and Piket gives a light sparkle to the melody on this trio effort. "Billy Ballad," written by Mintz, has a feeling of late night melancholy, and "My Friends and Neighbors (for Sam Rivers)" moves from the lush beauty of smooth-flowing string harmony to an edgy and angular piano/drums interlude. An "inside/outside" dynamic pervades on the tune, as it does on much of the second half of the disc, where Piket goes back to a straight trio.

Mintz's "Shmear"—a tune that can be heard in quite a different setting, a saxophone and drum duet with Mintz and John Gross, on Beautiful You (Origin Records, 2004)—opens the second half ("Side B") of Sides, Colors; frenetic and turbulent, serrated and sharp-edged, and diametrically opposite to the CD's Bill Evans opener.

Mintz, a master tunesmith as well as a top-tier drummer, penned five of the six songs on "Side B," from the high energy, unrelenting "Relent," featuring Piket on organ, to the angular, McCoy Tyner-like "Ugly Beautiful," with Piket pounding out percussive chords.

Side, Colors features a mix of styles, but is sequenced perfectly. "Side A" is mostly with strings; "Side B," a freer, mostly piano trio affair. Piket takes some chances here, and it pays off nicely.

Track Listing: Laurie; Make Someone Happy; Billy's Ballad; My Friends and Neighbors (for Sam Rivers); If I Loved You; Empty House; Shmear; Idy's Song and Dance (song); Idy's Song and Dance (dance); Relent; Ugly Beautiful; Degree Absolute.

Personnel: Roberta Piket: piano, organ, electric piano; Johannes Weidenmueller: bass; David Smith: trumpet (1, 3, 4, 6); Charles Pillow: clarinet, bass clarinet, flute (1, 3-6); Anders Bostrom: flute, alto flute (1, 3-6); San Sadigursky: clarinet, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone (3-6); Fung Chern Hwei: violin (1, 3-5); Mikyung Kim: violin (1, 3-5); Charisa Rouse: viola (1, 3-5); Jeremy Harman: cello (1, 3-5).

Title: Sides, Colors | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced

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