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Critical Jazz reviews Spike Wilner “La Tendresse”…

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Cover art that quickly dispels the tired myth of judging a book by it’s cover, Spike Wilner presents an incredibly intimate and somewhat emotionally charged recording that breaks down the classic piano trio in the most organic of forms. There is a special musical happy place this trio works from with one foot stuck in a more traditional past and the other foot moving forward with a melodic sense of purpose. The slightly obscured theme is the more femine riff on love both pro and con from a seemingly more feminist point of review as is given credence by some delightful arrangements and the artful way these tunes are offered up for approval.
Wilner opens with the more melancholy “La Tendresse” which is a gorgeous sonic exploration of shifting harmonics and melodic development, all seemingly familiar but with a fresh intensity that is captivating with stellar bassist Dezron Douglas and the rhythmic finesse of drummer Joey Saylor is added to fill in the gaps. Wilner turns in a virtuoso like performance while occasional pushing a more free form but never coming close to loosing accessibility. “If I Only Brain” is a sprightly number where Wilner’s arrangement breathes fresh life into an iconic classic. The impact of changing textures, shifting meters and playful dynamics begins to add layers of musical character to this most entertaining of releases. “Crepuscule With Nellie” is a huge roll of the musical dice for Wilner, a pianist attempting a Monk classic is the equivalent of a young guitarist tackling Hendrix early in his career. Wilner’s artful reinvention of this Thelonious Monk standard places Wilner in that special category of performer that can artfully handle any classic without disrespecting himself or the original. Douglas and Saylor round out the perfect rhythm section for this slightly blues infused gem.
I normally tire of piano trios quickly. How many times can you hear “Body and Soul” before you find yourself in Home Depot looking for a length of rope and rickety stool? Spike Wilner varies his set list. Wilner plays with delicate precision, deep introspection all while keeping a slightly more light hearted swing front and center.
Le Tendresse is one of the finest piano trios I have heard in years and is an absolute must for those trio aficionados! A sublime recording!

Written by editor

April 10th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

Posted in Reviews

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