Eugenia Choe: Verdant Dream

Dan McClenaghan By

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New York-based pianist Eugenia Choe released one of the finest debuts of 2017 with Magic Light (SteepleChase Records). It was a trio outing of the highest order, featuring a distinctive and interactive trio interplay with bandmates Danny Weller (bass) and Alex Wyatt (drums). Choe proved herself a fine interpreter of tunes from Billy Strayhorn and alto saxophonist, Benny Carter, but it was her eight originals that—exploring, in part, the aspect of light—that stole the show.

Now, as 2018 winds down, Choe offers up an almost all-originals set—Miles Davis' "Blue In Green" sits in as a centerpiece of sorts—with Verdant Dream.

Pinning down the allure of Choe's compositions is difficult. It seems to come down to the freedom in the architectures. Like the music of the late Paul Bley, Choe eschews a template of any sort for her tunes. Repeated riffs are few. Surprises smile behind every corner, in the gentle blooming of the title tune, through the solemn but uplifting "Odd Birds," to hopeful closer, "Windcatcher." It is uncertain how much improvisation plays a part. It sounds like a central component.

The trio proves, again, that it is a connected and cohesive unit; and a special nod to bassist Weller for his arco work, that adds some beautiful gray hues to verdant green sound.

And "Blue In Green," the Miles Davis tune: A unique, loosely-structured, Choe-esque rendition. It sounds as if the trio has found religion, on this somber and deliberative rumination on this classic, with bassist Welling painting in a gorgeous, darker hue to the green.

Track Listing: Verdant Dream; Sunday Fatigue; Odd Birds; Ever Green; Midnight Mingle; Blue In Green; What; Milomonalo; Knock Knock; Wind Catcher.

Personnel: Eugenia Choe: piano; Danny Weller: bass; Alex Wyatt: drums.

Title: Verdant Dream | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: SteepleChase Records

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