Of One Mind
In jazz it is not necessary that the whole be greater than the sum of its parts: a group-leader's performance usually rises above that of his bandmates. But on pianist Pete Malinverni's Of One Mind the totality of his trio's sound is more interesting than the solo contributions of its leader.
It would be pure speculation to say this was Malinverni's intention, but consider this: the telling album title does not come from any of its tracks; a thoughtful essay by the leader points out that, while teaching on various campuses, he has learned the importance of equal musical partnership; the focal point of the CD is indeed the trio as opposed to Malinverni backed by bassist Dennis Irwin and drummer Leroy Williams.
The bottom line is they all provide many highlights: "The End of a Love Affair" is surprisingly convincing as an uptempo swinger; "Blame It on My Youth," as Malinverni writes, from the "tortured brilliance [of] Oscar Levant," is equally valid as a waltz; Vernon Duke's "What Is There to Say?" is just plain lovely; Cole Porter's "I Love You" produces interesting bop lines from Malinverni; and "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" is the reharmonized hit of the session.
When bassist Irwin is not walking, which is often, he provides fancy footwork. Drummer Williams' brushwork is worthy of Picasso.
But to end where we began, Malinverni, on his own, with all his technique and taste, lacks a distinctive, memorable style.