Pete Malinverni: On The Town

The pianist is joined by bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Jeff Hamilton in generally light-touch readings of Bernstein

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Malinverni convened his long-time bass colleague Okegwo and Jeff Hamilton on drums for this tribute to Leonard Bernstein. He has known Hamilton since 1987 but never recorded with him. The drummer plays in a less assertive, more lightly swinging format than usual here, showing his adaptability to a leader’s requirements when not leading himself.

In any event, the three musicians lock in together successfully to produce a free-flowing programme of popular compositions by Bernstein. A Night On The Town, at the end of the set, is the only composition by the pianist leader and is loosely based on New York, New York, which opens the programme.

Malinverni plays with a light touch for the most part although he breaks out in percussive style for the uptempo reading of Cool. This piece is introduced by Hamilton’s drum solo, and he ends it with a flourish of percussion. In between, Malinverni plays with fire and spirit, varying his approach on the first three selections.

He states on the liner that it is “hard to imagine Some Other Time played in any way other than that heard on the lyrical version by Bill Evans”. However, he does so, changing the time signature and chord framework to produce a rather hard-swinging reading. It is perhaps deliberate that this track is the only one where the influence of Bill Evans is not noticeable. It is very much in evidence on the gentle Lucky To Be Me, where the pianist’s light touch and melodic approach is front and centre. Somewhere is also taken at a slow tempo and very lyrically. Simple Song and I feel Pretty get medium tempo workouts and Lonely Town is played prettily.

The support from both bassist and drummer is steady and tasteful throughout, with Okegwo exercising his deep, firm bass lines in the section and taking solos with a strong tone. His contrapuntal lines seem to suit the pianist very well at all tempi and Hamilton is the epitome of good taste all through.

Discography
New York, New York; Lucky To Be Me; Somewhere; Cool; Simple Song; I Feel Pretty; Lonely Town; Some Other Time; It’s Love; A Night On The Town (58.37)
Malinverni (p); Ugonna Okegwo (b); Jeff Hamilton (d). New Jersey, 11 April 2021.
Planet Arts 302104