Elegance is a difficult quality to pin down, but you know it when you see itor hear it. Duke Ellington, of course. Lester Young: Oh yeah. Or to take it into the piano trio game: Bill Evans, Hank Jones, Jessica Williams, Ahmad Jamal.
With his debut Some Other Time
, Los Angeles-based pianist Greg Reitan can also be added to the elegance category.
Boundaries are being stretched in the piano trio format, with jamband approaches and added electronics coming into play, but Greg Reitan plays the game straight, with a classic sound that harkens to Bill Evans and Ahmad Jamal. A piano man with an exquisitely supple touch along with an obvious eruditionerudition and elegance go hand-in-handReitan has crafted a superb set, opening with Cole Porter's "All of You." The time-tested standard is given an airy, buoyant ride by the trio, with Reitan's succinct, lighter-than-air right hand flurries dancingeach note crisp and clear and sharp, in the mode of Ahmad Jamal.
Reitan has chosen his non-originals well. Vince Guaraldi's "Star Song" showcases the trio's sympathetic rapport and full-on swing, with Reitan caressing the melody with reverence and care. "Dear Prudence," from The Beatles' classic The White Album
(Apple, 1969), begins with the original lugubrious tempo, but in short order Reitan cranks things up and slips into a persistent rhythm; and if Prudence wouldn't come out to play with John Lennonhe sounded so wet blanket tired back thenshe could hardly resist the Reitan Trio's friskier, more insistent approach.
"Time Remembered," from the pen of the late Bill Evans, goes inward, in a searching exploration of pensive beauty. The seemingly unlikelyfor a piano triotake on John Coltrane's "Giant Steps" boosts the trio's energy level to a high peak of momentum with, for Reitan, some Jessica Williams-like speed. But the tune also moves into a drifting, ethereal and strikingly lovely interlude with some of the most intricate three-way interplay of the set.
Five of the twelve tunes are Reitan originals, all strong compositions with, perhaps, "Joy's Song" standing out, featuring a gorgeously light-hearted melody that works an extroversion/introversion dynamic with aplomb.
Reitan closes the set with Leonard Bernstein's "Some Other Time," a wistful wrap-up to the twelve-chapter musical tale that began with Cole Porter's boldly optimistic demand for "All of You." It is a beautiful, melancholy closing to the show, displaying the pianist's mastery of the ballad and ending the album on a note that begs for more.