As album debuts go, So Glad To Be Here is a noteworthy one for pianist Leslie Pintchik and her trio. The album begins with two standards and ends with Monk's "We See." Everything else is a Pintchik original, with one composition from bassist Scott Hardy.
The pianist was a graduate student at Columbia University pursuing a career in teaching English Literature when she decided to change directions. In the mid 1980s, she was selected by West Coast bassist Red Mitchell, who was returning the U.S. after several years in Stockholm, to join him for a gig at the New York downtown jazz club Bradley's. The other member of the group was then-guitarist Scott Hardy. Upon Mitchell's passing in 1992, Pintchik formed her own trio. The most recent addition to this group was Sastoshi Takeishi as percussionist. Takeishi studied at the Berklee School of Music and spent the 1980s in Colombia with the Bogata Symphony Orchestra and then in Miami with smooth jazz flutist Nester Torres, and has been in New York since the early 1990s.
The album begins very well with an up-tempo take on Kern's "All The Things You Are" with a Bill Evans/Keith Jarrett type ambiance. I was again reminded of Evans per the strong, melodic solo taken by bassist Scott Hardy (husband of the pianist), which recalled the intuitive playing of Scott LaFaro. Hardy takes several solos throughout the album (I stopped counting after the first three tracks) and the empathy between Pintchik and her two colleagues is obvious. Takeishi is truly a unique percussionist who adds a tremendous sense of snap, crackle and pop to the drum kit that enhances the music. His use of shading and creative percussion raises this album's worth a notch.
The second standard, Irving Berlin's "You Keep Coming Back Like A Song," a more obscure 1946 movie song, is interpreted as a sensitive ballad again in a Bill Evans mode. What follows is a series of tasty originals beginning with "Scamba," in a bossa groove that is reminiscent of Jobim's "Chega de Saudade," followed by a reflective "Hopperesque" and the swinging up-tempo "Let's Get Lucky." "Happy Dog" again revisits a Latin treatment and it's a pleasure to hear. A change of pace entry, "Mortal," attempts a seven-minute portrait of a human lifespan. The first portion of this compositions utilizes silence and space and Takeishi reaches deep into his percussion suitcase for unusual tools of the trade. This is the only example on this album of the drummer sounding as if he were participating in a "special effects" demonstration.
All in all, this is a most absorbing performance by the pianist/composer and her very capable trio.
Track Listing: All The Things You Are, You Keep Coming Back Like A Song, Scamba, Hopperesque, Let's Get Lucky, Happy Dog, Mortal, Terse Tune, Luscious, Something Lost, Wee See.
Personnel: Leslie Pintchik, piano; Scott Hardy, bass; Satoshi Takeishi, percussion.