Leslie Pintchik Quartet – Live In Concert – Pintch Hard Records CD (53:11) + DVD (16:9 and PCM Stereo), 54:37 ****:
(Leslie Pintchik – piano; Scott Hardy – bass; Mark Dodge – drums; Satoshi Takeishi – percussion)
It appeared that the academic life would define Leslie Pintchik. Despite her passionate, skilled piano expertise, she was teaching English literature as an assistant at Columbia University. Eventually, she returned to her musical roots, working the Manhattan restaurant circuit. Along with, then guitarist Scott Hardy (who now plays bass in her group), Pintchik joined a trio headed by bassist, Red Mitchell.
With her penchant for arrangement and composition, it was inevitable that she would front her own group, playing eminent jazz clubs including Blue Note and The Bottom Line. The first two CDs (Glad To Be Here, Quartets) with slightly different combinations accompanying Pintchik and Hardy, were critical successes. The amalgamation of improvisational, listenable jazz, helped to find a niche in the jazz hierarchy.
Leslie Pintchik Quartet – Recorded Live at the Shandalee Music Festival’s New York Showcase series, an ambitious project, , is companion to the We’re Here To Listen studio project, with shared material. The quartet (Pintchik, Hardy, Dodge and Takeishi) performs a lively set, consisting of original material and interesting covers. The opening number (“Scamba”), with band introductions, kicks off the concert with a relaxed samba arrangement, written by bassist Scott Hardy. Pintchik’s lead play is harmonic and expressive. Her interaction with the rhythm elements of the band is cohesive and engaging. Two Pintchik compositions are featured consecutively. First, “Over Easy” offers a straight ahead jazzy structure that introduces a discerning bass solo, and drum break (Mark Dodge). Not derivative, the piano style approximates classic jazz artists of the fifties and sixties. The second piece, “Completely” is introspective, creating an ethereal mood, augmented by intricate percussion (Takeishi), and a delicate piano line.
The ensemble is dynamic on some unusual interpretation of classic standards. “Blowin’ In The Wind”, a folk protest song, receives a rhythmic update that provides a structure for Pintchik’s colorful melody exploration and spontaneous combination of saucy chords and notation. Perhaps the most engaging band number is the eight-minute romp, “Too Close For Comfort”. Following a scintillating piano lead, the percussion/drum tandem executes an explosive jam. Pintchik joins the rhythm section in a flawless transition. Selecting a medley finale (“Somewhere/Berimbau”), the combo manages to imbue the piece with diversity and flair. A drifting piano introduction segues into a supple take on the lyrical Bernstein/Sondheim ballad. Brooding chord phrasing and Brubeck like time signatures give a fresh resonance to a very familiar musical theme. The Latin-driven, cascading jam at the song transition, brings a crisp accent to the quartet’s dynamics.
The DVD films the concert with a no frills approach. Pintchik relates anecdotal song references with cheerful banter. She eschews the jazz tradition of aloofness, obviously comfortable in her hometown setting. Both CD and DVD capture the small club ambiance with clear acoustics. This is also available in a Blu-ray version with CD.
TrackList: Scamba; Over Easy; Completely; Blowin’ In The Wind; Mortal; Too Close For Comfort; Somewhere/Berimbau
— Robbie Gerson