Joey Calderazzo

COMPOSERS: Bill Evans,Brecker,Joey Calderazzo
LABELS: Columbia
WORKS: Joey Calderazzo
PERFORMER: Joey Calderazzo (p), John Patitucci (b), Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts (d)
CATALOGUE NO: CK 69886

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Despite his undisputed position as one of the first-call pianists on the New York jazz scene – he plays regularly with the likes of Michael Brecker and Branford Marsalis – Joey Calderazzo has had a somewhat chequered recording career. His signing to Columbia ends a period without a major-label contract that saw Calderazzo produce some of his most thoughtful, mature music, but to little acclaim.

This album, however, concentrating as it does on the pianist’s considerable strengths in a trio setting, should ameliorate his fortunes. Backed by one of the best rhythm sections in the music – the irresistibly propulsive Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts and the deftly sonorous John Patitucci – Calderazzo has produced an intelligently varied set of originals – plus a tune each from Bill Evans and Brecker – that reproduces all the subtlety and drama that characterise his live performances.

Although justly celebrated for his scalding runs on up-tempo material, Calderazzo has a more contemplative side, and his affecting lament ‘Catania’and the slow-building ‘Haiku’ not only provide telling contrast but highlight the pianist’s somewhat underrated compositional gifts.

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His powerful, dense, roilingly intense approach, especially in its frequent reliance on slow tension-building and sudden release, is reminiscent of McCoy Tyner’s, and the exuberant yet lyrical sparkle in much of his soloing can call Herbie Hancock to mind. But in his quieter moments, Joey Calderazzo is wholly distinctive and original, and this album should finally raise him from favoured sideman to leader/composer status. Chris Parker