The Lynne Arriale Trio
Jazz Standard, May 18, 2003:
I take the train into Manhattan on a gorgeous sunny spring Sunday in May. I am going to the Motema Music Label Launch event at the Jazz Standard, located at 116 East 27th Street, NYC. The featured musical artist is: The Lynne Arriale Trio. Kim Smith, the publicist of The Blue Note jazz club, extended me an invitation to this special occasion. Thank you Kim.
Blue Smoke is a very nice restaurant and bar upstairs with the Jazz Standard club downstairs in a beautiful room that is well appointed and inviting. I am warmly greeted by Don the maitre d’, who accommodates me generously and gets me a seat right up front. Photography is not permitted, but I speak to Lynne Arriale and Don and obtain permission to take a few photos at the end of the set. Excellent! Lynne Arriale informs me the last song of the set is, “Seven Steps To Heaven.” Lynne is very personable, kind and warm.
I am served tonight by: Hathor. She is very gracious and her service is par excellence. My food is on the exotic side: Chili seared Tuna with Dirty Rice and Asparagus. I am immensely satisfied with the cuisine and the special attention and cheerful demeanor displayed by Hathor.
The lights dim as Don introduces The Lynne Arriale Trio at 7:39 P.M. The first number is, “Beautiful Love.” This is a slow sensuous ballad in a minor key. The melodic development is carefully executed with thoughtful restraint and a special touch of elegance and grace. The bassist, Jay Anderson, plays a crisp walking bass and the drummer, Steve Davis, plays brushes that are sharp and clear. The ensemble playing becomes more fluid as the song progresses. The trio becomes dynamically quiet for the bass feature, which is both melodic and rhythmic, with a controlled and balanced presentation. The drum solo brushwork is articulated succinctly with well thought out paradiddles and rolls. The musical presentation is melancholy and cerebral. A seemingly celestial blend is achieved with the drummer mixing the ‘pro-stick’ and brush on double-time rolls, the bass in the high register and the piano’s moving melodic push through the middle. The band displays excellent dynamic control here; what a delicate touch!
The second song is, “Esperenza,” off the current CD Arise. The drummer takes the intro with brushes. The Latin tempo is upbeat and lively. The trio has a beautiful ensemble blend both majestic and robust. Steve Davis switches from brushes to sticks, utilizing the reverse stick on the snare and a louder dynamic effect on the tom-toms. Lynne Arriale smiles as she plays the piano magnificently. There is an excellent drum solo with Steve displaying superior percussive chops on his drum kit. Lynne and Steve alternate the piano melody and drum solo passages in a casual answer/response form.
The third musical entry is, “It Don’t mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got that Swing.” The music is slow, staggered and mysterious with excellent space and control. The tempo changes to a slow jazz swing while Lynne develops the melody. The bass follows closely and the drums are breviloquent and ethereal. The bass is featured with exquisitely delicate touch, melodic feel and distinctly subtle rhythmic delivery. Lynne pauses to speak and introduces the band: Jay Anderson on Bass and Steve Davis on Drums.
Song four is, “Blackbird,” from The Beatles. The melody is soothing, sustained and played initially straight. The drummer plays up-tempo brushes and the bassist plays an excellent double time solo. Lynne comps quietly in the background as the bass is featured. There is excellent melodic development that is thoughtful and flowing, while showcasing nice modulations through the changes. The music returns to the straight melody to emphasize the original song form. The brushwork features paradiddles and rolls that are fluid, lucid and open.
The next composition is the title track and name of the current CD, the first on The Motema Label, “Arise.” Lynne introduces the song as, “for the heroes.” This is a ballad, both slow and deliberate. The music evokes respect, grace and majesty. Lynne is deep in thought and emotion with an aura of reverence throughout this musical tribute. The bass follows extremely close and quiet. The drummer’s brushes execute percussive cymbal crescendos and complementary rhythmic accompaniment, switching to a mallet in the left hand and a brush in the right. Steve touches the cymbals with the handle of the mallet for succinct but subdued accents.
The next song takes a while to recognize as, “Iko Iko.” Steve Davis utilizes the reverse stick on the snare and a brush in the right hand to play a staccato upbeat syncopated 4/4 meter. He utilizes excellent use of rests for rhythmic space. The intro is slow and careful then opens up to a dynamically loud passage. Lynne’s left hand comps confidently while her right hand develops the melody inventively and creatively with a touch of humor. There is a cut-time change illustrating the band’s incredible dynamic control and sensitive musical touch, changing from loud to quiet, showcasing excellent use of rests for space and subtle textured treatment of the musical expression.
The next song, “Estate,” is mysterious, sensuous, delicate, quiet and reserved. Jay follows on the standup bass very close and sincere. The tempo modulates to a moderate 4/4 tempo. Steve uses the reverse stick on the snare and a ‘pro-stick’ on the cymbal for an articulate but muted ride cymbal sound. Lynne comps sublime chords with her left hand while developing the melody intuitively with the right. Her performance technique is incredibly virtuoso and deeply heartfelt with emotion. The bass is featured as Jay steps up to the musical front with confidence, control and superior musical composure. Lynne plays with extremely genuine feeling and clarity. Lynne often plays with her eyes closed. The trio exudes a sixth sense of intangible telepathic communication ability! Lynne solos on the melody exquisitely and passionately.
Lynne pauses to pay special tribute to the supportive business team that surrounds her at Motema Music by stating their creative concept clearly: “We’re not in the music business, we’re in the inspiration business.” She graciously credits Jana Herzen founder of Motema Music, Suzie Reynolds her manager, and the incredible energy of the staff epitomized and spearheaded by Jenn and Tracy.
The last song of the set is an arrangement by drummer Steve Davis, “Seven Steps to Heaven.” This song is upbeat and lively. This tune is sharply contrasting in its hard rhythmic drive and fast bop tempo incorporating stops and dynamic changes from sizzling hot to slow and deliberate. There is a moderate musical passage featuring piano, and then it resumes the hot up-tempo bop. Steve is superior on his trap set. Amazing! The band really cooks, excellent walking bass and amazing piano solo resolving to a quiet change. Steve’s drum solo is absolutely stupendous. He really lets loose and is all over the drums. Lynne smiles with pleasure at this excellent band arrangement. The dynamic musical manipulation and delicate control of this trio is utterly surreal! The Lynne Arriale Trio embodies a sensitive and sensuous blend of delicately reserved musical touch, possessing a sixth sense of seemingly telepathic musical communication, virtually without any eye contact.
The Lynne Arriale Trio puts on a show that awes the crowd. After the end of each song, there is a pause of silence before the audience can react and applaud. The musical communication is on a different wavelength, possessing a unique dimension of creative relationship and demonstrating a deep spirituality in nature.
I urge all jazz affectionatos to personally experience The Lynne Arriale Trio whenever you can possibly get a chance. This magical musical movement must be witnessed to be truly appreciated and beheld. Lynne greets me after the show. We hold two hands as I express how fantastic she is, what touch! The band is superb!
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