Wednesday, September 11, 2013

David Arnay: 8

N Studio Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: 8

Pianist/composer David Arnay is another of the many artists likely unknown beyond the borders of New York, where he spent his early years; or the Los Angeles area, where he now resides and works. Like many of today’s musicians, he teaches and embraces other jobs in order to compose and perform. 8, his third album as a leader, demonstrates that he is both talented and promising.

This disc’s format is unique: The tracks develop and “grow” as they proceed. The opening tune — one of only two that aren’t original compositions — is a swinging solo piano rendition of the Duke Ellington/Juan Tizol classic “Caravan.” Then, as each subsequent track follows, another instrumentalist is added until an octet is created. 

Thus, the addition of bassist Edwin Livingston results in a scintillating duo performance of “11/12/11,” and then drummer Peter Erskine turns the duo into a trio for “Billville,” Arnay’s tribute to Bill Evans. Tenor sax artist Doug Webb creates a quartet that burns its way through “Step Four,” a post-bop swinger. A quintet is formed with the arrival of percussionist Munyungo Jackson, and Webb switches from tenor to bass clarinet for “Old Man Says.” The sextet introduces Paco Loco on guitar, for John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” which — as a striking change — is done as a ballad. (Webb switches to soprano sax for this track.)

Trumpeter Dan Fornero and trombonist Vikram Devasthali replace the guitar to create the septet that performs “Six of One” and, finally, Loco returns on guitar — and Webb picks up his baritone sax — for an octet handling of “Dream Groove.”

No matter the combo  size, the performances are smooth, swinging and unique. If there’s any justice in the music world, Arnay and his associates will receive many more opportunities to entertain us, while — I’ve no doubt — having a lot more fun in the process.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Many thanks for bringing this album to my attention. While I slightly prefer some of the sparer arrangements (11/12/11 sticks with me), the entire package makes for rewarding listening, and hangs together very well for such a broad solo-to-octet spread.