Friday, August 31, 2018

Alberto Pibiri: “Jazz Legacy” (2018) CD Review

Alberto Pibiri is jazz pianist and composer who was born in Italy and now resides in New York. His new album, Jazz Legacy, features all original material, written (or, in two instances, co-written) by Alberto Pibiri. Backing the pianist on this release are Paul Gill on bass, Paul Wells on drums, and Adrian Cunningham on tenor saxophone and clarinet. Guitarist Dave Stryker joins him on one track, and vocalists join him on a few tracks. This is an excellent album, one of the most enjoyable jazz releases I’ve listened to this year.

The album gets off to a fantastic start with “For Oscar,” a fun, joyful tune with the focus on the piano. There is a bit of rock and roll flavor, and a bit of a parlor music vibe. Then nearly two minutes in, the song becomes a jazzier gem, with some cool stuff on drums. There is even a brief drum solo. This track is a total delight, something to bring a smile to your face. Though original, it certainly has a familiar vibe about it. The Oscar of the title, by the way, is pianist Oscar Peterson. That’s followed by “Walkin’,” which also has a familiar feel, particularly the work on horn, which I love. It’s a wonderful, cheerful tune with an easygoing groove, a tune you may find yourself humming before too long.

Then “My Sunshine” is a wonderful composition that starts as a pretty solo piano piece. One thing that’s striking about these tracks, these compositions, is that they have a wide range of flavors, of feelings, of styles. When the other musicians come in, I am particularly fond of Paul Gill’s work on bass. Approximately halfway through, the song turns a corner, becomes a kind of peppy, fun number, with more bright, merry work on piano. Then it returns to a gorgeous piano section to close out the track.

“New Bossa” is a lively tune featuring nice work on saxophone and a really good drum solo. Oh yes, I am always a sucker for a good drum solo, and this one hits the spot. Then the bass leads off on “A Blues,” giving it a cool vibe and groove at the start. I love the way this track builds, and it isn’t long before it becomes an energetic number. This music is making me feel better about the world; hey, it will be around long after the current administration is laid to rest. As it began the track, the bass finishes this one solo. Then “Kiss Kiss” comes on fast, the bass and drums rushing along, gathering us up as they go and taking us along. I love the clarinet on this track.

The next three tracks feature guest vocalists. Sheila Jordan joins the group on “Be Free,” which she co-wrote with Alberto Pibiri. It’s a mellower, kind of romantic tune with an intimate vocal performance. “With the blues in my heart/And my eyes full of tears/All these memories of you haunting me/So here comes the night/The sadness is gone.” Sheila Jordan also sings on the following track, “For Sure,” along with Jay Clayton, the two providing some fun scat, making it one of the album’s most delightful numbers. Then Miriam Waks joins the group on vocals for “Oh Yeah!” She also wrote the lyrics for this cheerful song. “I ain’t got money/Ain’t got time/Got no reason/For this rhyme.” This track becomes a lively, rockin’ tune, featuring some wonderful work on horn, and also featuring Dave Stryker adding some cool stuff on guitar. The album then concludes with “It’s Me,” a gentle, pretty piano piece.

CD Track List
  1. For Oscar
  2. Walkin’
  3. My Sunshine
  4. New Bossa
  5. A Blues
  6. Kiss Kiss
  7. Be Free
  8. For Sure
  9. Oh Yeah!
  10. It’s Me
Jazz Legacy is scheduled to be released on CD on September 7, 2018. It was made available digitally last year.

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