The second volume of pianist Peter Beets' New York Trio has one major departure from the first, the replacement of bassist Rodney Whitaker with Larry Grenadier. Dutch über pianist Beets is more like a muscular Oscar Peterson playing bebop than anyone else. No matter what tune he plays -- whether it be Jerome Richardson's wonderful "Groove Merchant," Sonny Rollins' "Paradox," or even Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" in a medley with "Upper Manhattan Medical Group," he takes the Peterson road of busyness in his articulation. Beets is fiery, there can be no denying that; he is also a technician of the highest order -- listen to his blazing solo on "Paradox" or his furiously paced right-hand runs on the jazz-on-speed version of Miles Davis' "So What" melded with John Coltrane's "Impressions." And therein lies the problem. Beets is an academician, even in his radical reworkings of classic tunes. He plays like a European -- all technique, a passion for the chart and stretching it out, but no emotion whatsoever in his playing articulation. He always sounds like he's in competition. Contrast this with Grenadier's big-sound bass playing and the drumming of Willie Jones III and you have a trio, like the first version, that is at odds with its leader. It isn't about keeping up and making the twists and turns, no matter how knotty. Anyone with technical acumen can do that. It's about holding what's true about the emotion contained within the music (especially those found in blues and ragtime) in your manner of playing and expressing it. Beets' playing is so megalomaniacal in displaying his skill that somewhere jazz gets lost. And one more thing: The liner notes by "jazz " journalist Christopher Hoven that accompany this release reveal his utter academia-induced ivory-tower ignorance about race and class -- especially when it comes to the music called jazz. And to make any assertion that jazz ideas, from their inception, have ties to European music is borderline racist.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek