Listening back on Roberta Piket
's discography, with recordings like the trio affair, Love and Beauty
(Thirteenth Note Records, 2007) and the ambitious Side, Colors
(Thirteenth Note Records, 2013), it's clear that the New York-based pianist has established herself as "an artist deserving wider recognition." With Solo
she cements a reputation as a top level jazz artist. Solo
features Piket alone with the piano, the most challenging of formats. To say she has risen to the challenge is an understatement. On a set of mostly standards and Great American Songbook classics she freshens some familiar fare, offers up two of her own "outside" compositions, and sequences a perfect set that showcases her own distinctive personal voice on the piano that combines a cerebral approach with a sense of fun and wonder.
"Never open with a ballad" is common advice. Piket ignores it, to her credit as it turns out. She marinates in the melody of the Howard Dietz/Arthur Schwartz gem, her spacious, deliberate unfolding shining a light on the beauty of a well-crafted melody.
Then there's Thelonious Monk
. Piket celebrates the quirkiest of the bebop pianist/composers with a two part mini-suite: "Monk 1: Variations on a Dream," from Piket's pen is a craggy, convivial romp in the spirit of Monk, leading into a frolicsome take on one of his most familiar tunes, "Monk's Dream." Covered often, Piket's tribute is one of the classics, painting her own personality inside Monk's singular mindset.
Bright colors of the suite give way to darker hues with Bruno Martino's Bossa Nova, "Estate," followed by saxophonist Wayne Shorter
's "Nefertiti." Piket treats the Shorter classic like a malleable piece of clay, shaping it to her own harmonic configurations, with the repeated melody in it center, surfacing again and again.
Piket closes out with two tributes. "Beatrice," from the songbook of the late saxophonist Sam Rivers
, a beautiful, nonchalant rumination (a genuine nonchalance only the most skilled of artists can offer up), and the brief and beautiful "Improvisation Blue," written in the 50s by Piket's father, Frederick. The elder Piket was a classical composer. The tunediscovered in his musical scores after his passing by daughter Robertawas an attempt at penning a "popular" tune. It is a poignant, perfect closer to Roberta Piket's most absorbing work of art.