Toby Koenigsberg

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Pianist Toby Koenigsberg's second CD as a leader is a mind-stretching trio affair featuring bassist Tyler Abbott and drummer Jason Palmer, delving into famous and lesser-known jazz compositions, standards, and originals. While most pianists tackle Bud Powell's works in a fairly straightforward manner, Koenigsberg and his musicians reshape "Oblivion" with a steady, pulsing Latin rhythm behind the pianist which seems out of kilter but fits beautifully. Powell's humorous Asian-flavored "So Sorry Please" is approached in a disjointed fashion where the drums and bass frequently seem independent of the piano, though Koenigsberg retains Powell's wit. The late Bill Evans' "Show Type Tune" is one of his less frequently performed pieces; the trio's interpretation kicks off with Palmer starting on brushes and switching later to sticks; while Koenigsberg's approach to it is choppier than Evans' recording, it is no less valid. The one standard is a lush, almost hushed arrangement of "My Foolish Heart" that deserves to be savored. The leader's "Variant Strain" is a constantly shifting work that evolves subtly from its initial waltz setting, with the pianist sitting out as Abbott and Palmer build it to a stirring climax. The CD is bracketed by a pair of intriguing works written by trumpeter André Canniere, both of which ignite the trio's imagination. Ideally, this highly recommended CD is best enjoyed in a quiet room devoid of distractions, with low lighting and a glass of a favorite vintage wine.

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