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Richard Kamins reviews Noah Haidu “Momentum”…

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Pianist/composer Noah Haiduis a wonderfully talented pianist whose debut CD on Posi-Tone Records, “Slipstream“, featured a quintet with Jon Irabagon (saxophone) and Jeremy Pelt (trumpet).  His sophomore effort for the label is aptly titled “Momentum” and finds Haidu leading a trio of bassist Ariel de la Portilla and drummer McClenty Hunter through a smartly balanced program of originals and standards.

Perhaps the best part of Haidu’s playing is how melodic he can be.  On pieces such as Keith Jarrett’s “Rainbow” and Thad Jones’s “A Child Is Born“, the pianist makes sure you hear the melody but, in the case of the latter tune, he wraps in quite a different arrangement. His solo is thoughtful, introspective (at times), and wistful as he gracefully and then forcefully moves away from the melody. The Cuban-born de la Portilla gives Haidu a great foundation while Hunter stays close to the beat without intruding. The gentle swing of the opening track, Jimmy Van Heusen’s “I Thought About You“, gives Haidu the opportunity to display his chops over the bassist’s active “walking” lines and the drummer’s catchy swing. The 2-handed chordal opening section of Joe Henderson’s “Serenity” is orchestral, richly melodic leaning towards the blues – the bass and drums eases into the solo section, opening a groove for Haidu to dance atop,.

The title track is an intelligent multi-sectioned piece with various changes in dynamics.  The drummer is in the driver’s seat, giving the song a joyful head of steam. There is a tinge of McCoy Tyner’s power in Haidu’s forceful solo.  The “slippery” rhythms of “Juicy” displays the fine interaction of the trio with each musician pushing the piece forward.

As I have stated numerous times, the jazz world does not lack for piano trio recordings.  What Noah Haidu and company accomplish on “Momentum” is to play with intensity, intelligence, and wit, allowing the pieces to breathe and the listener to enjoy without feeling battered or played down to.


Written by editor

May 26th, 2013 at 7:13 am

Posted in Reviews

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