New York pianist Pete Malinverni is a familiar name to jazz lovers who scan the newspaper pages to see who is appearing on the club scene. Although he has several recordings on the well-regarded independent Reservoir label over the past seven years, this is my first opportunity to hear him first-hand. Malinverni has also been a Minister of Music for the past twelve years at the Devoe Street Baptist Church in Brooklyn, where he directs the Gospel Choir and Jazz Ensemble. One of the tunes on this album, "Let the Sea Roar," is based upon the text of King David's Psalm 98, arranged for piano trio. Malinverni's associates on this date are veterans Dennis Irwin on bass and Leroy Williams on drums.
The album begins with the title tune, one of four originals, and a bass line from Irwin provides the backbone that keeps this ship afloat during a tempest. It is a composition that gets your attention quickly with the theme of turbulence and roiling currents. Malinverni is not afraid to rely on the Great American Songbook, and I am pleased to note that six of the ten songs are in that category.
Both "My Heart Stood Still" and "From This Moment On" share a well-rooted 1950s hard bop reading that demonstrates the pianist's techniques. Without being an imitation of the bop piano masters of that period, we can hear a rendering of melodies that stand up to the best of Tommy Flanagan or Bud Powell. "Alone Together" is given a contrapuntal reading and "Get Happy" is taken way up-tempo with an assist from drummer Williams. Malinverni's use of standards as effective jazz performance pieces reminds me of the personal involvement that pianists Bill Charlap and Fred Hersch employ with their respective trios.
Track Listing: The Tempest, My Heart Stood Still, Let the Sea Roar, Alone Together, Twelve, Get Happy, My Ideal, From This Moment On, Alone Together, It Could Happen To You.
Personnel: Pete Malinverni,piano; Dennis Irwin, bass; Leroy Williams, drums.