Dave Peck

3 and 1

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One of the enduring instrumental combinations for musical expression, whether jazz or classical, is the piano trio. The great jazz pianists from Teddy Wilson and Art Tatum through Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson to Brad Mehldau and Keith Jarrett have used this vehicle for their personal jazz expressions. With this offering, Seattle-based Dave Peck knocks on the door to be admitted to this exalted company. On the jazz scene as a performer, arranger, and composer for more than 25 years, Peck is no newcomer. His performing credentials include sideman assignments with such notables as Chet Baker, Sonny Stitt, Lee Konitz, and Art Farmer. He has worked with Bud Shank as arranger/composer since 1985. Peck's approach to the piano falls somewhere between Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson, with some Thelonious Monk influence on Peck's "If...Then...." Admittedly a wide gap, but plausible here. There's that wonderful thoughtful lyricism that characterizes Evans' work, but he adds a little more embellishment to his playing than the late master, nudging closer (not close) to Oscar Peterson. This respectable uniting of styles is apparent in a perceptive seven-and-a-half minute exploration of "Star Eyes," where every aspect of this popular 1943 classic standard is probed, pushed, pulled, and prodded by Peck and his cohorts. And his cohorts are critical to the success of this session. Dean Hodges' drums set the pace without ever becoming intrusive, staying with the traditional role of a drummer in a small group. Chuck Deardorf, on the other hand, gets ample opportunity to enliven the musical feast with his refreshing bass solos. He is especially telling on "If I Were a Bell" and on Monk's "Eronel." With a play list of jazz and classic standards, Brazilian rhythms, and originals by Peck, 3 and 1 is welcomed to the jazz piano trio literature with open arms. Recommended. [The unusual label moniker Let's Play Stella finds its derivation in a joke about the naming of Peck's dog, now dubbed Stella.]

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