COMPOSERS: Bernstein et al.,Ellington,Lennon and McCartney,Monk
ALBUM TITLE: Lynne Arriale Trio
PERFORMER: Lynne Arriale (p), Jay Anderson (b), Steve Davis (d)


It’s always thrilling when a new star shines in the jazz firmament, and pianist Lynne Arriale is an exceptional talent. After a thorough grounding in classical piano, she turned to jazz because she wanted ‘the challenge of combining performance and composition on the spot’. Keith Jarrett is one of her main influences and Arriale’s playing has a similarly luminous tone and superlative melodic flair.

However, she has her own musical vision which informs the frequent creative surprise of her work, and there’s an often magical rapport between Arriale and her trio colleagues Anderson and Davis. Inspiration is a celebratory investigation of the songs, composers and performers that have made their mark on her over the years.

She takes a few daring liberties with some of the pieces: Ellington’s ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing’ is given a slow, ineffably tender performance, but over a reggae beat; Thelonious Monk’s ‘Bemsha Swing’ begins as a free collective improvisation during which fragments of the melody gradually emerge, a rhythm is established and the crazily inventive piano phrases magnify the quirkiness of Monk; Lennon and McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’ is lithe and rocky, with intense lyricism and a gospel-preaching coda; and Bernstein’s ‘America’ gets an ebullient performance with drum and bass solos, and a miraculous flow of ideas from Arriale.


Other high spots are Jarrett’s lovely ballad ‘So Tender’, Chick Corea’s ‘Tones for Joan’s Bones’, Abdullah Ibrahim’s ‘Mountain of the Night’ and Arriale’s extraordinarily moving performance of ‘The Nearness of You’. This is a great album.