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Luis Perdomo: Twenty-Two

Dave Wayne By

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There are so many really good jazz piano trio albums bouncing around of late, that it's truly unusual to hear something that stands out these days. The first few tracks of Luis Perdomo's seventh album as a leader, Twenty-Two, are as technically accomplished and downright pretty as anything out there, but they struck me as less than extraordinary. Just really pleasant and really incredibly well- executed. A native of Venezuela who's best known for his decade- long collaboration with Ravi Coltrane, the album's title comes from the fact that, at 44 years of age Perdomo has spent exactly half of his life in the USA.

Perdomo's technique is classically-derived, abundant, flawless and at times, florid; reminiscent of Art Tatum, Bud Powell and Chick Corea, with a rhythmic approach that has the ebb and flow of the best jazz. His dynamic backing band is comprised of Mimi Jones, whose rough-hewn, muscular bass playing is highly appealing in and of itself; it also contrasts nicely with Perdomo's refined pianistic acrobatics. Drummer Rudy Royston is always worth listening to, primarily because—no matter what musical setting he is in—he always sounds like he is having an absolute ball playing the drums. The joy in Royston's playing is very, very palpable at all times, and his playing on Twenty Two is nothing short of breathtaking.

So I kept listening, and for me, everything clicked on the Twenty-Two's fourth track, "A Different Kind of Reality." Here, Perdomo switches over to the Fender Rhodes, and the music suddenly gets a lot more soulful and loose. The trio literally breathes together on this piece, which sounds like a great lost jazz-funk track from the early 70s. The pensive, elegiac, all-acoustic "Two Sides of a Goodbye" couldn't be more different: no longer merely pretty, this ballad-like piece envelops the listener in a surreal stream of consciousness.

Perdomo returns to the Fender Rhodes on "Looking Through You," and delivers the advanced jazz-funk goods once again, this time assisted by Jones' excellent, percussive bass solo. The rhythmic convolutions of "Cota Mil" are inspired by the polyrhythmic, celebratory drumming of coastal Venezuela's Patanemo district. Perdomo makes these rhythms his own, creating something that straddles the parallel worlds of Latin Jazz and M- BASE. Perdomo superimposes acoustic and electric pianos in an appealing way on the samba-flavored "Brand New Grays." Royston goes absolutely bonkers here.

There's a bounty of musical riches on the remaining tracks, as well. The album's closer, "Days Gone Days Ahead," juxtaposes a march-like rhythm with eerie minor-key harmonies; Royston's ebullient, busy chatter prods and pokes Perdomo into some interesting places. Re-listening to the first three tracks, I was particularly struck by the understated, yet relentless forward-leaning energy of "Old City. "Aaychdee," a coup de chapeau to Harold Danko (one of Perdomo's mentors) is the closest thing to a straight-ahead jazz tune on Twenty Two, and features a pleasant wordless vocal and another excellent bass solo from Jones.

Track Listing: Love Tone Poem; Old City; Weilheim; A Different Side Of Reality; Two Sides Of A Goodbye; Light Slips In; Looking Through You; How Deep Is Your Love; Aaychdee; Cota Mil; Brand New Grays; Days Gone Days Ahead.

Personnel: Luis Perdomo: piano, electric piano (4, 6, 7, 10, 12); Mimi Jones: bass, vocals (9); Rudy Royston: drums.

Title: Twenty-Two | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Hot Tone Music

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