Monday, September 29, 2014

Leslie Pintchik: In the Nature of Things

Pinch Hard Music
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: In the Nature of Things

I was introduced to this performer while reviewing an earlier album — We’re Here to Listen — about three years ago. She was good then, and she’s better now. 

Pintchik began as a literature teacher at Columbia University, then became a jazz pianist and composer; I described her style at that time as “genteel jazz.” Well, she’s less genteel now, and swings a lot more.

This album features a sextet: Pintchik is backed by an alto and soprano saxophonist, trumpet/flugelhornist, bassist, drummer and another percussionist. Eight of the nine tracks are her own; the only standard is Lerner & Lowe’s “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” That tune is done as a ballad, as are many of her originals; the remaining up-tempo swingers demonstrate how far she has moved into a style that truly burns. She has left the Marion McPartland approach behind, currently resides Bill Carrothers’ neighborhood, and is approaching early Bill Evans. 

Pintchik has a delicate touch on the keyboard, a characteristic that’s particularly effective on the tempos she seems to favor. She also has a style that intermixes single-note melodic lines with chords played with both hands, following the same lines she initially established with that expressive right hand. It’s a technique that forces a listener’s attention; you always want to hear what she’s going to play next.

Her previous albums have utilized smaller groups (trios and quartets). She has increased the instrumentation to include reed and brass horns on this release; that expands the complexity of her compositions and arrangements, which I find quite pleasing. 

So far, she limits her performances to New York City and closely surrounding areas. Tell you what: I promise to go back to school, for a remedial course in English literature, if she’ll broaden her arena to include some venues on the West Coast!

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