With You Tell Me, Rick Germanson has created an immensely satisfying piano trio album in which the musicians engage the compositions, and each other, with mature dialogue, wit, and extroverted passion. To top it off, the music swings like crazy.
Germanson exhibits a roiling swing and a steady flow of solid ideas. He favors dense chord voicings, coupled with a scampering right hand, and his overall approach bears a superficial resemblance to that of McCoy Tyner or Kenny Barron. But Germanson likes to improvise with unpredictable phrasing, using some short phrases and riffs to build tension. And amid the urgency of his playing, it also has a joyous quality. Germanson obviously loves to play and he loves to swing.
The momentum of the piano solos is enhanced by Gerald Cannon's deep bass groove and Ralph Peterson's superlative drumming. Cannon's deep, woody sound and in-the-pocket walking are invaluable to the success of this music, and he locks in with his bandmates most effectively. His solos are excellent, and of course, he swings hard. Peterson is simply spectacular. He sets off fireworks, constantly pushing the music forward, and playing dense polyrhythms that swirl around the groove without ever detracting from it. He can follow Germanson's lead, or he can engage in complex, creative crosstalk with both Germanson and Cannon. And his brushwork is exquisite, particularly on "Dance Of The Forgotten."
Besides the strong playing by all hands, You Tell Me benefits from Germanson's inventive compositions. "Entropy," for example, is an up-tempo cooker with a catchy melody. "In The Cut" is a solidly grooving blues. "Dance Of The Forgotten" is another cooker, a waltz with knotty harmonies and the rich chordal voicings in which Germanson maneuvers so adroitly. With its superior improvising, impressive selection of tunes, often compelling sense of interplay, and hard and happy swing, You Tell Me has it all.
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