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Misha Piatigorsky Trio – Stained Glass and Technicolor Grooves [TrackList follows] – Natural Drummer 69:09 [5/6/18] ****:

There is a lot of jazz which gets released over the course of any given year. There are top-drawer artists which everyone knows; there are those specific gems which make top-ten lists; and then there are lower-echelon albums which never quite get much notice but are worth discovering. A case in point is the 69-minute, ten-track live outing, Stained Glass and Technicolor Grooves, credited to the Misha Piatigorsky Trio (which is not necessarily Piatigorsky’s usual group). This is straightforward jazz which swings and mixes standards with originals, the kind of jazz someone might hear at a small, intimate venue. Or in this case, in front of an audience at the Glen Rock Jewish Center in New Jersey. Drummer Sam Fishman (his background is typically in rock and progressive rock) wanted to provide a jazz club environment in his hometown of Glen Rock and enlisted NYC-based pianist Misha Piatigorsky (winner of the 2004 BMI Thelonious Monk Composers Competition), bassist Charlie Dougherty (who is involved in various lesser-known jazz bands), and Sam Fishman’s brother, Jeremy, who guests on four tracks.

The live setting proves to be a great way to hear some in-the-moment performances of four Piatigorsky originals and an assortment of pop and jazz covers. The trio comes out totally swinging with three Piatigorsky originals, including the eight-minute. crowd-pleasing “Where’s the Sun?,” where Fishman demonstrates he should be doing more jazz behind the drum set and Piatigorsky scorches his way across the acoustic piano keyboard. That’s followed by the beautiful, 12-minute “Nachalot” (which, roughly translated from Hebrew, means ‘homestead’). Piatigorsky offers an elegiac introduction, which is changed to an ethereal piano/bass duet, and then Fishman enters on the drums as the piece gradually picks up steam and starts to swing. There’s a bit of Middle Eastern tinge which tinkles in, but generally “Nachalot” is clear-cut jazz and a showcase for how well the trio communicates on stage. The threesome escalates the energy level again on the upbeat and modernist “Superhero,” also a live favorite: CD listeners can even hear someone yell, “Whoo!” at the beginning.

The Misha Piatigorsky Trio also exhibits an adeptness for interpretation. The 1930s pop tune “Close Your Eyes” has proven a durable jazz and vocal outlet for many musicians, from Peggy Lee to Gene Ammons. Piatigorsky, Dougherty and Fishman make “Close Your Eyes” another winning and snappish number with Piatigorsky holding the keyboard chords in a hot zone. A definite apogee is a rambunctious undertaking of Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s “Pure Imagination,” from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Over time this familiar melody has been done by everyone from Lou Rawls to Bob James, and from Mariah Carey to Monty Alexander. Everyone has a different way of approaching this piece. The trio gives “Pure Imagination” a fast-paced and buoyant slant which goes well with the setlist’s mostly-vertical acceleration. And if one wants to keep things swinging, how about a one-two-three punch of Bennie Moten, Mongo Santamaria and Cannonball Adderley. There’s always a delight in hearing the ever-satisfying “Moten Swing.” Santamaria’s “Afro Blue” is also a recognizable jazz jewel and Jeremy Fishman brings some welcome, extra percussion as well as some melodic sax which hints a few instances to early John Coltrane (who recorded “Afro Blue” in 1963). Adderley’s “Inside Straight” also is raised a bar or two with Fishman’s easy-going sax along with some notable Piatigorsky piano contributions.

The concert closes with a gospel-esque Piatigorsky solo piano composition, the aptly-named “Misha’s Mood,” highlighted by his hymn-like chord structures and a playful nod to a ragtime hit and a few other identifiable themes; “Misha’s Mood” segues directly into a lively take of Billy Taylor’s “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free,” where Fishman and Piatigorsky pump up the vigor level to a rousing conclusion for a fine evening of jazz: their good-humored duet at the end is heartwarming.

Performing Artists:
Misha Piatigorsky – piano; Charlie Dougherty – bass; Sam Fishman – drums; Jeremy Fishman – producer, saxophone (tracks 7-10), percussion (tracks 7, 8 and 10)

TrackList:
Where’s the Sun?
Nachalot
Superhero
Close Your Eyes
Pure Imagination
Moten Swing
Afro Blue
Inside Straight
Misha’s Mood
I Wish I Knew How It Feels to Be Free

—Doug Simpson