Jason Lindner: Live/UK (2004)
Following his 2000 little big band recording, Premonition (Concord), pianist Jason Lindner took a quartet to Europe, recording Live/UK at the prestigious Pizza Express club in London, England. That it has taken nearly three years for this recording to see the light of day is curious but, regardless, it was well worth the wait.
Lindner, a fixture on the New York scene since the mid-1990s, continues to demonstrate his intriguing take on Latin and Afro-Cuban music by placing these styles into odd-metered contexts. "The Five Elements & The Natural Trinity, Part I," for example, breathes new life into a tried-and-true formula by placing the clave into a 5/4 time signature. Saxophonist Jimmy Greene, heard on this track playing flute, navigates the somewhat choppy yet natural-feeling rhythmic landscape, provided by bassist Omer Avital and Marlon Browden, with complete confidence. Browden, an up-and-coming drummer from the Greg Osby circle, is a muscular player who is as at ease with up-tempo burners like 'Suheir' as he is with the down-and-funky gospel of 'Take It To Church.' With too few recordings to his credit to date, he is a player to watch.
Lindner is a bold player who exploits the full range of the piano. Premonition established his credentials as a triple-threat composer/arranger/leader of note; Live/UK proves that he is, in fact, a quadruple-threat, with a piano style that is rhythm-heavy without sacrificing a strong sense of melody. The independence of his left and right hands is downright scary; his solo on the modal workout, 'Meditation on Two Chords,' brings to mind a young McCoy Tyner but with a broader reach. He takes simple motifs and gradually, almost painstakingly, develops and enhances them until they take on a completely new shape. Melodic lines ignore bar boundaries and build elliptically.
While Latin music is a strong informer of Lindner's music, it is clear that his harmonic sensibility extends beyond. 'Information Kiss' is based around a relatively simple scalar idea, but with misplaced rhythmic emphasis giving it an odd-metered feel even though it is actually in 4/4. Avital and Browden gradually build it into a funky groove that gives Greene a chance to stretch out on tenor, demonstrating a relaxed approach that takes away some of the tension from the rhythm section.
Live/UK continues to affirm what the New York scene already knows: that Jason Lindner is an emerging force that demands to be heard. With a penchant for rhythmic intrigue and melodic invention, one can only hope that there will be less time between releases, and that Lindner's reputation will continue to build.
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Track Listing: Intro: Lever du Soleil; The Five Elements & The Natural Trinity, Part I; Meditation on Two Chords; Suheir; Seven Ways; Information Kiss; Take It To The Church
Personnel: Jason Lindner (piano), Jimmy Greene (tenor and soprano saxophones, flute), Omer Avital (contrabasse), Marlon Browden (drums)