Danny Grissett


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Pianist Danny Grissett's star is on the rise with this, his second CD as a leader. The recording represents a duality -- moving ahead with new material he has written, as well as tapping on some old standards and playing trio versions of compositions he knew when he was working with alto saxophonist Vincent Herring. No matter the material, Grissett is rendering whatever he plays with an effortless brilliance that distinguishes him as one of the top three young pianists on the contemporary scene, right up there with Robert Glasper and Aaron Parks. One of the ex-Herring repertoire tunes is the appropriately titled "Hopscotch," the opening tune and the highlight of the CD. As quirky and jumpy as the title suggests, it is a springboard for Grissett, bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Kendrick Scott (not coincidentally bandmates of Glasper) to jump into some fiercely swinging music. "Encounters" is the other one, but extrapolated upon in a darker, freer, understated mood than the original. Grissett is admittedly searching for voicings during the implied light bossa "Sunrise," is somber on "Waltz for Higgins" and "Never Let Me Go," the former dedicated to ex-mentor, the late drummer Billy Higgins. Multiple, dizzying rhythm changes with a 4/4 framework shift and downshift at will during "A New Beginning," and the run- away finale "Git!" has a funky, near hip-hop nuance with Grissett's two-hand chordal accents. This tune and a take of Wayne Shorter's "Toy Tune" are most like Glasper's witty, clipped and edited then extroverted Zen streaming technical attributes, stopping and starting melodic phrases at will. It's astonishing for sure. Pay close attention to Danny Grissett -- he's a comer, a keeper, and the next major modern jazz pianist to emerge as a major player, if he's not there already.

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