On Lynne Arriale’s Give Us These Days (Challenge CR73453), also reviewed in Jazz Journal, six of nine tracks were her compositions. Similarly, seven out of 10 of the tracks on this new release are her originals. One of the accompanists, bassist Jasper Somsen, is again on hand, this time drummer Jasper Van Hulten being succeeded by E.J. Strickland. Other similarities are that last time a guest singer appeared on one track, this time a guest sings on two tracks, and again the session was recorded in Belgium (except for this release’s vocal tracks).
But of course most of these similarities have little if anything to do with the performance. One that does, is the consistently excellent collaboration between Arriale and Somsen. Mutual understanding is evident throughout, and both of these musicians are strongly yet subtly underpinned by Strickland.
The session starts with a thoughtful and moving performance of Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child. The closing two tracks (recorded two months earlier), both arranged by Arriale, are Chimes Of Freedom by Bob Dylan and American Tune by Paul Simon. The latter began as a 17th century classical work and has known life in many forms in the years since then. The lyrics of these two songs, interpreted skilfully by Denhert, prove just as apt today as when they were first written, drawing as they do upon issues that mirror those that bedevilled America at the height of the Civil Rights movement. Similarly, an underlying theme that links all of the original compositions is expressed by Arriale as her hope that longstanding American ideals, including providing a home for immigrants and support for those who speak the truth, will prevail.
Throughout, there is a rich variety of tempi, for example, a briskly swinging Journey, a Latin-flavoured Reunion, both with lithe solos by Strickland. It almost goes without saying, but must not, that Arriale’s playing throughout is of an exceptionally high standard. Another commonality with the previous album is a long, well-written liner note by Lawrence K. Abrams. That previous review ended with a sentence that also applies here: “This is contemporary jazz piano playing at its very best and should appeal to many”.
A live performance of the track Journey from Chimes Of Freedom can be seen below.
Buy Lynne Arriale: Chimes Of Freedom at Challenge Records
(1) Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child; Journey; The Dreamers; 3 Million Steps; Hope; The Whole Truth; Lady Liberty; Reunion; (2) Chimes Of Freedom; American Tune (48.56)
(1) Arriale (p); Jasper Somsen (b); Enoch Jamal “E.J.” Strickland (d). Mechelen, Belgium. 10, 11 October 2019. (2) as (1) add K.J. Denhert (v). NYC, 6 August 2019.