The collaboration of musicians unaccustomed to each other often yields unexpected and occasionally brilliant results. There is no substitute however, for familiarity. Greg Reitan has played with the same trio consisting of bassist Jack Daro and drummer Dean Koba for over two decades, and their resulting musicianship is versatile yet comfortable. It may have been recorded in Reitan's native Los Angeles, but West 60th began its conception in Manhattan, as the pianist gazed out at the city through the panoramic windows of Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, and carried that vision with him back to the west coast.
In 2001 Reitan formed a music company catering to the film industry, and his work has featured in numerous motion pictures and television productions. As Reitan composed all but three of the album's songs, it is surprising that the influences of that endeavor are most felt on his interpretation of Bobby Hutcherson's "When You Are Near." The group approaches the late vibraphonist's tune with a somber and haunting disposition, giving it the weight a song should have if it is expected to carry a pivotal scene. They don't rush the slow melody, instead allowing it to happen as it should, with patience.
Excluding the aforementioned ballad, the majority of West 60th shies away from slow and tender territory. Reitan plays the album's title track, a fitting urban waltz, with a gleam in his eye, and most of his quicker moving compositions such as "Momentum" and "Lines" demonstrate a studied intellect, rather than emotional outpouring. By the time his self-written "Epilogue" is closing the album's curtain, Reitan has given the impression of a clean, assured approach to jazz piano. Equally comfortable with a quiet hand or a busy one, his playing is neither warm nor thundering. While the trio may not have produced a seminal work, West 60th saunters forward with a steady gait, assured of itself.
Greg Reitan's continued collaboration with Jack Daro and Dean Koba produces another fine offering, guided by experience, yet never uninspired.
Hindemith; West 60th; When You Are Near; Momentum; Little One; Lines; Luminosity; Fluence; Four Piano Blues, Movement No. 3; Man Overboard; Epilogue.
Greg Reitan: piano; Jack Daro: bass; Dean Koba: drums.
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