Peter Martin, the 30-year-old from New Orleans, is the second pianist (after Bruce Barth) to be showcased on the MaxJazz label’s new piano series. (Interestingly, Bruce Barth is listed along with Martin as a co-producer.) The exciting date was recorded live in St. Louis, and it features a happening quintet in top form. Trumpeter Nicholas Payton shares the frontline with one of jazz’s best-kept secrets, tenor saxophonist Brice Winston; bassist Reginald Veal and drummer Adonis Rose anchor the rhythm section and get a good amount of solo room as well. Martin’s sophisticated take on bop and hard bop couldn’t be clearer than on the opening "Unusual Suspects," which could almost be a Jazz Messengers chart. He and the band also swing hard on "Attestation" (a line written over "Confirmation" changes), a mid-tempo version of Jackie McLean’s "Dr. Jackle," and Kenny Dorham’s minor-key burner "Lotus Blossom." But Martin’s musical insights don’t stop there. The jaunty, complex rhythmic structure of his Latin-tinged "La Pregunta" gives the band a lot to chew on, as does the playful rendition of Stevie Wonder’s "I Wish" that closes the album. Martin also offers a moving Jobim twofer, first playing "Triste" unaccompanied, then bringing Winston back for a duo on "Corcovado." His original ballads, "The Queen" and "Lovely One," give a good indication of his melodic gifts, not to mention his subtlety as an arranger — listen to how the trumpet and bass break away on "Lovely One," ending the piece alone, with a melancholy touch.
1. Unusual Suspects 2. La Pregunta 3. The Queen 4. Attestation 5. Triste 6. Corcovado 7. Dr. Jackle 8. Lovely One 9. Lotus Blossom 10. I Wish.