In his first solo piano excursion, Ted Rosenthal reveals himself as an intellectual bop and classical devotee, mostly indebted to Bud Powell, Lennie Tristano and J.S. Bach in no particular order. His technique is immaculate and contrapuntal-minded, the selection of material offbeat, but we don't feel as if we are in the presence of a strong individual personality; one responds with the head and not the heart. Rather than concentrate on the usual standards -- only a bare handful occupy the space here -- Rosenthal likes to include numbers by fellow pianists, such as Herbie Nichols' "117th Street," and an intricate bebop treatment of Tristano's "Lennie's Pennies," a fairly uninteresting rendition of Tadd Dameron's "You're a Joy," and James P. Johnson's "You've Got to Be Modernistic," which becomes more machine-like as it goes. He throws in a couple of originals; "Better You Than Me" is a rambling bop-based improv that changes keys constantly, while the less disciplined "Drop Me a Line" drops into a freewheeling contemporary classical world. He even tries a little Bach in "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," improvising a bit upon the theme but not straying too far from the urtext. This is Vol. 38 of the Maybeck series.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Richard S. Ginell