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Leslie Pintchik: True North

Dan Bilawsky By

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Leslie Pintchik's music has a magical draw to it. Perhaps it has to do with her pearly and softly pronounced piano work, at once circuitous and direct in the way it shapes and navigates expressive pathways. Or maybe it has to do with her compositional acumen. Her pieces, after all, have a way of registering and resonating both with the pleasure center of the brain and the heart. Those are the most admirable qualities connected to Pintchik's art, and they come through in crystal clear fashion on this extraordinary date.

True North is a true rarity, as tenderhearted themes, chic rhythmic foundations, undulating forms, and catchy strains are successfully woven into a seamless whole. Pintchik hits a homerun on the first pitch, delivering six minutes of pure joy and positive energy in the form of "Let's Get Lucky." Everything clicks—the grooves, Pintchik's solo, the escalating conversation between trumpeter Ron Horton and saxophonist Steve Wilson, the drum breaks for Michael Sarin—and there's nothing left unsaid. It's a solid opener, but it's only the beginning.

As Pintchik and her comrades continue, there are more wonders to behold. "Tumbleweed," a breezy Brazilian- based number, gently wanders along and gives space to Horton, Pintchik, and Wilson; "Just Sayin,'" built with angular ideals, features a strong and memorable solo from bassist Scott Hardy; Pintchik's brilliantly soft-hued take on John Lennon's "Imagine" transforms the piece without altering its core meaning; and "Crooked As A Dog's Hind Leg," a catchy-as-can-be blues, sings and swings in all the right ways.

The title track, one of the most affecting tunes on a record full of them, opens the second half of the program. It's a piece that acts as a concentrated taste of life's simple beauty. Only one more Pintchik original remains after that point— the penultimately-placed "Discreet," an unhurried samba that highlights the rapport between Sarin and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi—but there's lots more life on the back end of this date. Three classics adopted and adapted by Pintchik—"Falling In Love Again," "Charade," and a live version of "For All We Know" that plays like a bonus track—add to the already impressive body of work heard here. Getting lost in this music is simply a joy. If 2016 has a more pleasurable listen to offer than True North, this writer hasn't heard it yet.

Track Listing: Let's Get Lucky; Tumbleweed; Just Sayin'; Imagine; Crooked As A Dog's Hind Leg; True North; Falling In Love Again; Charade; Discreet; For All We Know (Performed Live).

Personnel: Leslie Pintchik: piano; Steve Wilson: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; Ron Horton: trumpet, flugelhorn; Scott Hardy: bass; Michael Sarin: drums; Satoshi Takeishi: percussion (1-9).

Title: True North | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Pintch Hard Records

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