Criss Cross Jazz
In this auspicious debut, pianist Roberta Piket proves a startlingly fresh pianist. Following in the steps of mentor Richie Beirach, Piket has evolved a personal style in which the harmonies of classical modernists like Debussy, Scriabin and Schoenberg ring out with the energizing brio of jazz masters ranging from Monk and Powell to Evans, Tyner, Hancock and Corea. Piket's unique approach is most evident in her bold reframings of standards such as "Always." Here, and in the appealingly personal solo take "You'll Never Walk Alone," Piket retains the essence of the melody's original shape while re-charging its emotive aura.
Piket's supporting cast is superb. Bassist Mike Formanek and drummer Jeff Williams are Gibraltar-esque, pushing and probing with aplomb. On "Brookland," a cleverly tabbed tribute to the 32-year-old pianist's Big Apple home-borough, Donny McCaslin's soprano sax and Scott Wendholt's trumpet sizzle. Tenorist Javon Jackson's cameo on a bracingly reharmonized "Some Enchanted Evening" is another gem. The challenging yet accessible program is also noteworthy.
Piket's originals like the edgy title track and her poignant setting of Marian McPartland's "Threnody" add dash. They also underscore the scope of a genuinely new talent.