Thursday, June 23, 2016

Leslie Pinkchik: True North

Pintch Hard Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: True North

This is the third album I’ve reviewed by this talented pianist, and she just gets better and better.

Pintchik was a teaching assistant in English literature at Columbia University — where she received a master’s degree in philosophy — before she discovered that her future lay in the field of jazz, as a pianist and composer. “Discovering” her took longer because, as with many musicians, she performs mostly in the area where she grew up and resides. Her territory is in and around New York and New Jersey.

She initially performed in trios and quartets; as time passed, she added instrumentalists. This album features a sextet; she’s joined by Steve Wilson on soprano and also sax; Ron Horton on trumpet and flugelhorn; Scott Hardy on bass; Michael Sarin on drums; and Satoshi Takeishi on additional percussion.

Pintchik composed six of the 10 charts; the remaining tracks are arrangements of John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Hollander and Lerner’s “Falling in Love Again,” Mancini and Mercer’s “Charade,” and a live performance of Coots and Lewis’ “For All We Know.”

Most of the arrangements are soft, swinging tempos, with rhythmic lines that include waltz, samba, bossa nova, straight-four and even R&B feelings. The exception — and my favorite track — is “Crooked as a Dog’s Hind Leg,” which is a tricky, bluesy, up-tempo tune that changes chords for each soloist. It’s guaranteed to get your fingers snapping and toes tapping.

All the musicians are superb. Pintchik’s piano is tasty, thoughtful, reserved but joyful; as I’ve mentioned previously, she’s on a level with Bill Evans. Wilson and Horton are inventive; they play off each other — and Pintchik — wonderfully. Hardy, Sarin and Takeishi not only provide a solid background, but nicely enhance the interactions among the other instrumentalists.

They’re a first-class jazz group, and this is a first-class album.

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