Rick Germanson: You Tell Me (2005)
Pianist Rick Germanson was named one of AAJ-NY's Best New Talents of 2004. If there were any questions as to why, You Tell Me should help answer them. Germanson's sophomore recording is a solid piano trio outing in which he peppers his original compositions with a few lesser-played standards, mixing ballads and a fine blues with the up-tempo tracks.
As a pianist, Germanson uses traditional voicings and textures, but it's apparent that he's studied and absorbed that tradition deeply, so that his ideas come out effortlessly and naturally in his own voice. "In the Cut" is the original blues on the album, a good composition whose theme is heavily (and trickily) syncopated and which uses some interesting substitutions for the traditional twelve-bar blues chord progression.
Germanson's technique can be eyebrow-raising, as in some of the runs up and down the keyboard in "Theme for Eliot" (written for his son), but it is evidence of his taste that he doesn't exhibit such flashiness at every opportunity.
A high point of the album comes with the sixth track, a cover of "It Was A Very Good Year." It's hard not to hear Frank Sinatra's voice in one's head when Germanson states the classic melody, but the piece's brisk tempo, together with Ralph Peterson's dynamic cymbals-and-rims drumming and Germanson's harmonies, firmly fixes the pianist's stamp on this one.
To close the set, Germanson offers a gorgeous solo piano take on Mel Torme's "Born to Be Blue," full of big, lush chords and given an easy stride pacing.
Track Listing: Entropy; Dance of the Forgotten; In the Cut; Theme for Eliot; Angel Eyes; It Was A Very Good Year; Alter Ego; Erika's Endeavor; Born to Be Blue.
Personnel: Rick Germanson: piano; Gerald Cannon: bass; Ralph Peterson: drums.