David Berkman: Live at Smalls

Album review
David Berkman: Live at Smalls

David Berkman

Live at Smalls

Label: SmallsLIVE
Media: CD
Genre: Jazz
Ratings:
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Pianist Berkman’s seventh as a leader follows the straight ahead formula of his previous quartet recording, 2009’s Live at Smoke. While his crystalline touch on ballads and assured sense of swing on uptempo numbers define the terrain here, it’s trumpeter Tom Harrell who nearly steals the show. They open with an exuberant “Milestones” (John Lewis’ 1947 composition, not Miles Davis’ 1958 tune of the same name) with Harrell and Berkman striding in unison on the buoyant head before the trumpeter delivers a golden solo underscored by the pianist’s assertive hard-bop comping and paced by bassist Ed Howard’s insistent walking and drummer Johnathan Blake’s interactive swing feel. Berkman provides graceful accompaniment for Harrell’s achingly beautiful reading of “Body And Soul,” performed as a sparse, poignant duet. Berkman’s “Ghost Wife” travels from sparse introspection to florid rubato excursions to energized freebop while his jaunty “Small Wooden Housekeeper” has a syncopated spring in its step. The lone trio number, “For Kenny,” is the pianist’s heartfelt homage to the late, great Kenny Kirkland. This superb outing concludes with a fresh take on the standard “Sweet And Lovely” with Blake providing a “Poinciana” beat underneath and both Harrell and Berkman contributing more sparkling solos.

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Contributors:
  • primary artist, David Berkman

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