(Leslie Pintchik, piano; Scott Hardy, bass; Mark Dodge, drums; Satoshi Takeishi, percussion on alternate tracks; Steve Wilson, alto & soprano sax on the other tracks)
Pintchik was starting on a university career when she decided to make music a bigger part of her life. She first got attention in NYC playing in trio with bassist Red Mitchell; she later formed her own trio with bassist Scott Hardy, who is now her husband. Her first CD in 2004 received praises for its lyricism, including from us.
Like her first album, this one is also a hybrid SACD, and again it’s great to see smaller labels like this taking the pains to do SACD. (But I wish they would put them in SACD super-jewel boxes and not in standard CD cases – I almost sent this on to a non-hi-res jazz reviewer, thinking it was a standard CD. Adding to the confusion, I just got in a standard CD in a Super Audio jewel case…Ed.)
The reason for the plural in the SA’s title is that Pintchik has assembled for the disc two different quartets – one with percussionist Takeishi, and on alternate tracks a different quartet with Takeishi replaced by saxist Steve Wilson. Wilson has performed with Chick Corea, Dave Holland, Joe Henderson and others, is a touring member of Maria Schneider’s Jazz Orchestra, and records for MaxJazz with his own Steve Wilson Quartet. Pianist-composer Pitchik felt that the change of one quartet member made a radical difference in the music. The tracks with Wilson are a bit more traditional quartet playing, while those with the percussionist get a bit further out and almost orchestral in some of their sounds. I really dug Wilison’s soprano solo on Small Pleasures.
The opening two tunes are standards, given the imaginative Pintchik arranging style. She doesn’t engage in virtuoso runs and wild key signature changes, but revels in more flowing, impressionistic effects of great lyricism. Drummer Dodge goes easy on the traps, reminding me of Connie Kay of the MJQ. Tracks 3 thru 8 are all originals, with Scott Hardy contributing a song about that Japanese fish delicacy which if not prepared correctly causes sudden death. It’s not a fugue – as the title might suggest – but a little samba. The Brazilian influence continues in the closing track’s medley of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story tune Somewhere with Baden Powell’s Berimbau, inspired by the Brazilian single-string folk instrument. It’s amazing how similar the melodic construction of the two tunes is, and how perfectly they fit together! This six-minute arrangement is a little masterpiece of great beauty.
Sonics are super-clean with great presence, though primarily confined to the frontal soundstage.
TrackList: Happy Days Are Here Again, Too Close for Comfort, A Simpler Time, Not So Fast, Over Easy, Private Moment, Fugu, Small Pleasures, Somewhere/Berimbau
– John Henry