Pianist Brian Piper is one of those local heroes who is venerated in his little corner of the world (in this case, North Texas) but is scarcely appreciated elsewhere. He should, of course, be far better knownhis talent alone commands itand an album such as this, on which Piper displays his unerring taste and remarkable versatility, certainly won't harm the cause.
Piper has chops to burn, as he shows on Ellington's "C Jam Blues," Juan Tizol's "Caravan," Chick Corea's "Armando's Rhumba" and his own "Robert Peterson," and can play as gently and soulfully as needed (proving the point on "Body and Soul," "Prelude to a Kiss" or Freddie Hubbard's "Up Jumped Spring"). Piper is the captain of an able-bodied threesome whose other members are veteran bassist Lynn Seaton and up-and-coming drummer Jason Thomas. They form a tight-knit crew, one in which everyone's oars are not only sturdy but perfectly synchronized.
Besides the songs already noted, the trio performs Joe Henderson's lively "Recordame," Sammy Fain/Paul Francis Webster's sentimental "Secret Love" (played faster than usual), Miles Davis' urbane "All Blues" and Gerry Mulligan's lyrical "Five Brothers." Seaton has arco solos on "All Blues" and "C Jam Blues," scatting and growling on the last in a manner made popular by the great Slam Stewart. When not soloing, Seaton keeps metronomic time, while Taylor adds enough spice to make the entree as appetizing as one could wish, serving as a capable stand-in for Jeff Hamilton, the drummer on the trio's previous album, Return to the 90th Floor... (90th Floor Records,2006).
There's a story behind "Robert Peterson," but it's best left to Piper to recount it, as he does with good humor in the liner notes. Suffice to say that it dates to his first semester in college and his earliest days as a pianist (he'd begun his studies on trombone and French horn). The trio has great fun with the piece, which is taken at what can best be described as the sort of lickety-split tempo worthy of "Robert Peterson" himself. A marvelous way to end a TerrrRIFFic! album.
Recordame; Secret Love; All Blues; C Jam Blues; Body and Soul; Caravan; Prelude to a Kiss; Five Brothers; Up Jumped Spring; Armando
Brian Piper: piano; Lynn Seaton: bass; Jason Thomas: drums.