Rick Gallagher

Sweet Potato Eyebrows

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Pittsburgh denizen Rick Gallagher's initial album is filled with flowing and melodic harmonic invention as he explores a musical program of two standards and one renamed traditional tune, with the rest originals. Gallagher has a graceful and supple way with his playing that captures the essence of each tune he applies his pianism to. As with most contemporary piano players, there's more than a touch of Bill Evans in him. One of the loveliest tracks on the CD, "Everything Is Good (Olivia's Song)," right from the opening chords brings to mind the Evans trio of the late '50s and early '60s. Instead of Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, Paul Thompson and Thomas Wendt are on bass and drums, respectively. Much of the playing is reflective, yet relaxed. The contemplative scenario requires that the listener pay close attention to get the benefit of the subtlety inherent in Gallagher's arrangements. His version of Duke Ellington's "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" is as meditative as any that comes to mind, taking on a Frederick Delius iridescence. Truly eight minutes of very distinguished pianism, with Thompson and Wendt helping to sustain Gallagher's interpretive stance on this classic Ellington work. On "People of the World," "Grumblin'," and the title tune the group is joined by Eric Defade and Delano "Volcano" Choy, where the tempo picks up considerably. The traditional tune "Amazing Grace" is turned around and redubbed "Grace Amazing," played at a much slower pace than that usually heard and with different time signatures, making it one of the more engaging pieces on the CD. Sweet Potato Eyebrows is a very credible initial undertaking.

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