Accidental Tourists – The L.A. Sessions – Challenge Records CR73332, 67:43 [Distr. by Allegro] ***½:
(Markus Burger – piano; Joe LaBarbera – drums; Bob Magnusson – bass)
The name Markus Burger is not one that might leap from the page for the average jazz enthusiast, despite the fact that he is an erudite and accomplished jazz pianist. In this first release in more than a decade, he is accompanied by a respected bassist Bob Magnusson and discerning drummer Joe LaBarbera.
The album is composed of mostly Burger’s original compositions, interspersed with a number of popular and jazz standards to provide a balance in compositional style and tone. The leadoff composition is a Burger original called “Grolnicks” dedicated to composer/pianist Don Grolnick with bassist Magnusson and his rich tone making exemplary use of his solo space. This is followed by “Air Canada” for which the airline should be flattered as it delivers the goods in a more timely fashion than they often do. Another Burger tune is “Rodeo Drive Hustler” which may in fact be his most interesting composition as it has a hop to its step and bristles right along.
Burger has made no secret of the fact that Bill Evans was his most important musical influence and consequently Burger lays out three tunes that were prominently part of Evans’ repertoire including “I Loves You, Porgy”, “In Love In Vain” and the Evans/Davis tune “Blue In Green”. Having drummer Joe LaBarbera part of this recording session was as bonus, as he also was with Evans in his last trio and had a clear understanding of the subtle drumming dynamics necessary to support these compositions. Pay particular attention to LaBarbera’s brush work on “Porgy” where he is at his unobtrusive best.
All in all, this is a remarkably good outing after a long absence.
TrackList: Grolnicks; Air Canada; Black Sea Pearl; Full Circle; I Loves You, Porgy; Rodeo Drive Hustler; In Love In Vain; Inspektor Bauton; The Old Country; Blue In Green; One World; Morning Smile
This is a delightful holiday collection.