By Robert Bush
Southern California piano virtuoso Danny Green has really come into his own lately, shedding some obvious debt to Chick Corea and, most importantly, learning how to infuse a sense of space into his music. This new maturity culminates with the release of his latest disc, a marriage between his remarkably simpatico trio of bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Julien Cantelm and a string quartet of Kate Hatmaker and Igor Pandurski (violin), Travis Maril (viola) and Erica Erenyi (cello).
The album begins strongly with the super-melodic “Time Lapse To Fall”. Right away the strings prove to be on equal footing with the trio, sharing the harmonic soundstage with rich results. “As The Parrot Flies” balances pizzicato strings in support of Green’s effusive work at the keyboard. This combination works best when there is a strong current of dissonance and healthy rhythmic counter-narrative—something the quietly inventive Cantelm illustrates well. Green has obviously studied the music of Wagner and Mahler, even though those influences come up in a pretty organic fashion.
Rolling arpeggios over Grinnell’s throbbing whole notes characterize the title track as the pianist’s fingers fly across the keys but it’s the bassist whose woody exposition takes the tune to a higher level with a solo right out of the Gary Peacock/Charlie Haden tradition.
There is a deep and pensive beauty throughout much of this record, alongside an attractive tunefulness that seems to express the optimistic side of melodic development. On “Lemon Avenue”, Green’s sense of a ‘hook’ comes to the forefront and sets up a wonderfully ebullient solo showcasing his deft touch and attention to detail. Grinnell follows with a breathtaking contribution—it is hard to imagine this album without him. Green even explores the blues in his own way on the album-closing “Down And Out”, getting the strings out of the chamber vibe and into a funky, gutbucket sensibility.
Sometimes, Green’s string charts stray too close to an overt sense of the saccharine—a little more tension through a more daring sense of harmony would perhaps serve the music better, but this could also be nitpicking. It’s a fine line to walk and Green’s trio continues to evolve and develop its own voice—as a unit and in combination with strings.
See review at nycjazzrecord.com (p. 25)