Brooklyn-based pianist Richard Bennett describes his music as “bounce jazz”, and while that sounds trite, it is a surprisingly accurate label, for each track verily bounces along with wit and energy. His approach is one of “theme and destruction”, the individual piano patterns for each song creating the melodies that are then tested to destruction.
Build-up, destroy, and then “listen closer and you will hear jazz, contemporary classical and Indian raga elements threaded throughout”, for Bennett has a solid jazz grounding and has also performed and recorded in India for many years.
This might all come across as being unnecessarily convoluted, but Bennett and his energetic trio are first and foremost extremely accessible. Most of the 12 shorts tracks are medium to fast tempo, which makes the slow, unfurling melodies of It’s Only July and One Voice, and the gloriously cinematic Tum Hi Ho, such a pleasure, Bennett’s piano lines intriguing in their harmonies and tonal decorations. His overdubbed melodica on Vape is oddly fitting.
Best of all perhaps is North Atlantic, a tidal momentum of a track with a bass-heavy kick that pushes everything forward with great abandon. Long-term collaborator Adam Armstrong is solid on bass, newcomer Julian Edmond on drums, originally from a gospel background, a fittingly funky partner to the pianist. It all adds up to a great package.
Bennett is a new name to me, but it’s good to get to know him and his honest, bouncy music.
I Come From The Future; This Is My Code; It’s Only July; Laughing Lion; One Voice; Made From Stone; North Atlantic; Vape; Plastique; The Reckoning; Tum Hi Ho (50.20)
Bennett (p, mel); Adam Armstrong (elb); Julian Edmond (d). NYC, October 2020.