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It's happened to a lot of us, getting hit really hard by the music of Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. Most of us, though, don'tafter taking the hitgive up the beginnings of a promising career in academia to pursue jazz full bore; but that's what pianist Leslie Pintchik did, and So Glad to Be Here is the resultand a superb oneof that career change.
Pintchik put together her first trio in '92, but So Glad to Be Here is her debut. The set opens with Kern and Hammerstein's "All the Things You Are," in a softly yet insistently propulsive mode. Next up is Irving Berlin's "You Keep Coming Back Like a Song." The pair of standards serves as a wonderfully familiar introduction to Pintchik's sound. The parallels between this trio and Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio seems obvious, with "All the Things You Are" suffused with a Jarrett-like low-grade tumultuousness channeled by the melody, and a seemingly effortless group cohesion, into an implacable and inevitablebut not forcefulforward momentum; while "You Keep Coming Back..." glides through time.
The trio gets into a relaxed groove on bassist Scott Hardy's "Scamba," a jaunty roll that gets dashed with an unexpected array of colors by drummer Satoshi Takeishi. The percussionist splashes and knocks, and sometimes hebrieflysounds as if he's got the table knives out to clatter and tink and rattle on the pots and pans hanging from the kitchen's ceiling rack, maintaining long stretches of subtlety and texture interspersed with sudden hollow and/or metallic exclamations.
Seven Pintchik originals follow, revealing a composer with a flair for the lyrical, well-constructed, engaging melodies, strong efforts all, with "Terse Tune" chosen here as a particular favoriteedgy, dark-toned, maybe a bit manic. Pintchik closes things out with a tune from one of the giants who hit her and knocked her into this career in musicMonk's "We See," the trio sounding relaxed and ebullient, a bright and jaunty four-minute wrap-up on a fine debut disc.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.