Misha Piatigorsky: Uncommon Circumstances (2007)
One could make an interesting case for pianist, composer and bandleader Misha Piatigorsky. He is a Russian émigré (1981), an accomplished musician, a student of pianist Kenny Barron with a Master Degree from the Manhattan School of Music and, not lastly, the winner of the Thelonious Monk 2004 BMI Composers Composition.
Piatigorsky also has recorded with Trio Del Sol alongside guitarist Freddie Bryant and percussionist Gilad. Long a part of the NYC jazz scene, Piatigorsky is also the pianist and musical director for singer Mark Murphy. The release of Uncommon Circumstances has initiated media attention amongst the jazz press as a newsworthy event.
The paradox presented by the pianist is that he wants to display his expertise in both the acoustic jazz trio setting but also show his proficiency on the Fender Rhodes, and clearly divides his time between the two for the first third of this album. If you are a flexible, urban-groove jazz aficionado who doesn't mind (or prefers) this sub-genre, then you'll find this to be a positive aspect of the album. If, on the other hand (like this listener), you are reminded of the dark days of jazz from the late '70s and '80s, it is a distraction from the real event. Piatigorsky may just be trying to mix it up and show his versatility on these alternating tunes.
The opening track, "Where's The Sun," shows the classicism that Piatigorsky brings to the piano trio, but the funk of "Montevideo" presents another aspect of his playing as a purveyor of jazz/rock that appeals to the hip downtown crowd. Piatigorsky recovers nicely on "Land of Confusion," an acoustic trio tune that displays the group interplay between bassist Hans Glawischnig and the persistent work of drummer Ari Hoenig. This is followed by the title tune, again featuring Fender Rhodes.
The group smartly takes on Sammy Cahn's "I Fall In Love Too Easily" and, since we know what to expect in this beautiful melody, it doesn't disappoint. A solo piano intro makes way for the trio and we're in much more familiar Bill Evans territory here. Finally, at the halfway mark, for "SoHa," Piatigorsky trots out the Rhodes one last time.
From this point forward, the album is all acoustic and much more appreciable. "Fishing Boats," written by Piatigorky's father, is a slow and evocative ballad. "Spanky's Dilemma" seems like a more modern bebop composition with the group kicking in loose and ready, while the album ends with the up-tempo "Superhero" and the melodic ballad "Lonely Butterfly."
Track Listing: Where's The Sun; Montevideo; Land of Confusion; Uncommon Circumstances; I Fall In Love Too Easily; SoHa; Nachlaot; Fishing Boats; Spanky's Dilemma; Superhero; Lonely Butterfly.
Personnel: Misha Piatigorsky: piano, Fender Rhodes; Hans Glawischig: bass; Ari Hoenig: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced