Pursuing justice in a deeply melodic trio setting...
Lynne Arriale Trio – The Lights are Always On – Challenge Records #CR-73532 – 44:17 ****1/2
(Lynne Arriale – piano – Jasper Somsen – bass – E.J. Strickland – drums)
On her just released 16th album as a recording leader, pianist Lynne Arriale, presents ten original compositions honoring the pursuit of justice, as well as giving lyrical praise to doctors, health care providers, as well as defenders of freedom during these troubled times. Having lost her husband during the August and September, 2021 recording periods of this latest issue, Lynne broadens her empathy towards the suffering of others, whether it be COVID-19 casualties, defenders of the Capital during the insurrection of 1/6/21, or the righteous souls of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Representative John Lewis.
Arriale’s tunes are deeply melodic, and her piano touch is pure, swinging, and makes use of “space,” much like Tommy Flanagan, and Hank Jones. It is a heart felt presentation that is both relaxing and invigorating at the same. Having caught Lynne in an intimate live setting at the Monterey Jazz Festival many years ago, I was caught in the dilemma of staying to hear her entire trio set, or explore the myriad of other acts throughout the Festival begging for my attention. Lynne’s trio easily won out, and I left totally entranced, and excited for rapture she created for her audience.
That feeling has endured for me, and this new album just cements my opinion. Its beautiful enveloping journey begins with “March On,” a tribute to activists around the world. Its lilting melody is enhanced by the deeply supportive bass of Jasper Somsen, whose warm tone embellishes the mood. The title track is introspective and searching, as its theme is the need for perseverance even in these troubled times.
“Sisters” has a church gospel infused anthemic feel that will get your head nodding in a Sunday morning fashion. The American patriot, Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, on the track, “Honor,” is given his proper praise for his brave testimony in the Ukraine hearings, after which he was vilified by the right and his military career tarnished.
“Loved Ones,” in a gentle way expresses the hope that we can take the time to appreciate those we love, but maybe neglect the effort to make it a priority in our daily life. It is followed by “Sounds Like America.” It is celebratory in nature, with an uplifting quality, with a nourishing flourish that satisfies the soul – a specialty of Lynne’s. Somsen’s woody bass brought Charlie Haden to mind.
“The Notorious RBG” needs little explanation for its inspiration. Drummer EJ Strickland is featured here. “Into the Breach” deals with the ominous Capital insurrection. It’s more intense, and appropriately more driven than the other tracks. “Walk in My Shoes,” the dedication to John Lewis, blends cohesion and power in an effort to honor Lewis’ tenacity.
Arriale’s inspiring new release ends properly with “Heroes,” a ballad that puts a finishing touch to a reflective effort that gives hope and inspiration to an audience that could use a musical dose of “relief,” that we so deeply need in the present time.
Thanks go out to Lynne Arriale and her trio for this musical elixir…
The Light Are Always On
Sounds Like America
The Notorious RBG
Into the Breach
Walk in My Shoes