Let's Play Stella
Peck, the stalwart pianist of Bud Shank's quartet, is prominent in the Pacific Northwest, where he teaches at Seattle's prestigious Cornish College of the Arts. A prolific composer, he provided all of the tunes for Shank's 1990 album Tales of the Pilot (Capri), but on this CD he interprets standards.
Peck, bassist Chuck Deardorf and drummer Dean Hodges work in the Bill Evans tradition, with a balance between Peck's elliptical ruminations-sometimes unaccompanied-and single-minded ensemble drive. A harmonic colorist, the pianist welcomes astringent chords into places they seldom visit. Peck's introduction to "Yesterdays," full of hints and allusions, invites his collaborators into a series of choruses that eventually develop a headlong inevitability recalling Lennie Tristano. In a fascinating nine-and-a-half-minute performance, Deardorf is the melodist and virtuoso soloist on "The Inch Worm," then provides the ostinato foundation for Peck to explore the possibilities in an extended chord. Hodges, powerful with brushes and quiet with sticks, is a listening drummer who responds to his companions' ideas. This album wears well.