Lynne Arriale Trio: Being Human

The US pianist, a longstanding and convinced trio performer, produces a suite of miniatures touching on swing, gospel and calypso


Since in 1994, Lynne Arriale – American pianist, composer and professor at the University of North Florida – has released a series of remarkable recordings highlighting and celebrating individual and collective responses to world events. This, her 17th album, is a suite of 10 original compositions as a “response to the division and turmoil in our world” that is meant to convey “a sense of unity and optimism”.

In this respect it continues the themes of her recent albums – Chimes Of Freedom (2020) which addressed the worldwide immigration problem and The Lights Are Always On (2022) inspired by the COVID-19 crisis but also with tributes to Supreme Court justice Ruther Bader Ginsberg and civil rights activist and politician John Lewis.

Being Human celebrates the achievements of such transcendent individuals as conservationist Greta Thunberg, mathematician and physicist Jacob Barnett for his advocacy of neurodiversity and differences, and Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban assassination attempt and received a Nobel prize for championing women’s equality.

Highly regarded by critics and fellow musicians, Arriale toured Japan with “100 Golden Fingers” – a group of pianists including Kenny Barron, Monty Alexander, Cedar Walton, Harold Mabern, Hank Jones, Ray Bryant and Junior Mance. She has also appeared at many European and North American jazz festivals. Her favourite format is a piano trio: ”It gives me the opportunity to shape the melody because I’m the one playing it. Each voice is unique and somehow we come together and interact with each other.” On Being Human she achieves telepathic rapport with bassist Alon Near and drummer Lukasz Zyta. The final track, Love Reprise, changes the format (not entirely successfully) with Arriale playing a Yamaha Clavinova, accompanied by “voices”. She writes: “This is my way of saying to my listeners ‘I send you my love.’”

This album is perhaps best described as a suite of miniature and equally well-sculpted compositions in a variety of tempi including Joy (a calypso) and a gently gospel-tinged and polyrhythmic Soul marking the Trump-“inspired” January 2021 mob assault on the United States Capitol.

Arriale writes “I am a believer in the power of music to reach people on an emotional, intellectual and spiritual level.” Repeated playing of these titles will fail to reveal their particular provenance without her explanations. Not a problem. Just listen and reflect.

Passion; Courage; Faith; Curiosity; Soul; Persistence; Heart; Gratitude; Joy; Love (Reprise) (40.47)
Arriale (p & Yamaha Clavinova); Alon Near (b); Lukasz Zyta (d). New York, 27-28 July 2023.
Challenge Records CR7 3572