David Berkman

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Pianist and composer David Berkman plays and writes in a style that is quite personal and unique, though at times it harks back explicitly to such masters of pianistic impressionism as Bill Evans and early-period Keith Jarrett. Generally, this tendency works very much in his favor: on the aptly titled "Cells," for example, he starts out with disconnected, almost pointillistic snippets of melody and eventually weaves them together into a composition that is both sweetly attractive and quite harmonically complex; on the gorgeous "Quilt," Berkman and his quartet begin with a more straightforward melody and then deconstruct it. Occasionally, though, the ideas seem a bit too stretched out and diffuse, as on the overlong and slightly self-indulgent "Iraq." At moments like these, the album begins to sound like it was made more for other jazz musicians than for civilian listeners. Overall, though, Berkman's compositions are rich and warm and reward repeated listenings. Saxophonist Dick Oatts is a particularly effective foil for Berkman on these performances. Recommended.

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