Trio (with Mark Summer, cello; Alon Yavnai, piano) – Chesky JD 293 ****:
Yet another new chamber jazz entry, showing a most exemplary trend.
D’Rivera has been known as one of the leading reedmen in both Latin and
mainstream jazz. On this session, recorded in December of last
year, he takes a different route. He mentions his introduction to
exciting music 50 years ago in Cuba when his father played for him
Benny Goodman’s 1938 quartet recordings, back to back with Goodman
playing the solo part in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A. For a long
time he didn’t know the difference between the two genres. Later, as a
child prodigy, he played both clarinet and sax with the Cuban National
For the past quarter century D’Rivera has been headquartered in New
York City, and to celebrate that half of his career he decided on an
intimate setting with just two of his favorite musicians. The idea here
was to combine the spontaneity of jazz and the rhythms of
Latin-American music with the intimate quality of chamber music.
And very successfully they are at doing just that. The Brazilian
classic Carinhoso knocked me out. I’ve long been a fan of jazz cello —
there’s not many practitioners in that bailiwick. Some of these
tracks took me back to the delightful Chico Hamilton combo of the
mid-50s with Fred Katz on cello. That was a bigger combo, but
Hamilton played the drums subtly —like a real musical instrument.
D’Rivera’s Trio has no drums, which is even better in a trio to my
thinking; the piano of Israeli keyboardist Yavnai does a fine job
serving up the low end percussive rhythms. Dig these sounds — Who says
chamber jazz can’t swing?
Tracks: Preludio Y Merengue, Difficult, Recorda a Papá, Night in
Tunisia, Alfonsina y el Mar, Kalimba, Five After, Cristal, Improvised
Sax Solo, A Fuego Lento, Carinhoso, Niebla y Cemento.
– John Sunier