With this enticing and convincing recording, Italian pianist Luigi Martinale once again shows why he is such a popular jazz player in his native land. An impressive blend of standards and originals challenge his finely tuned trio, which includes American bassist Drew Gress and local drummer Paolo Franciscone. The versatile Martinale might remind the listener of Jackie Byard or even Dave Burrell in his ability to play a range of styles well. While Martinale appears most comfortable in a post-bop, modern mainstream setting, he reaches back to the early 20th century on "A Crew With Drew" to project a highly rhythmic romp through the woods. Martinale has a knack for picking just the right notes, and every solo sounds relaxed and perfectly constructed, even at the fastest tempos. This recording isn't intended to break any new ground, which in a way is a shame, because the pianist is so good that he has the ability to push the edges. Instead, there is a conservative yet sophisticated interpretation of songs, several of the more compelling ones written by Martinale. If Martinale lived and recorded in the United States, he might be better known internationally as one of the leading jazz pianists. As it is, listeners are fortunate to share a glimpse of his honed skills. While he might not knock your shoes off, he will make you stand up and take notice.
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