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October 2005

Paquito D'Rivera
The Jazz Chamber Trio
Chesky Records

Paquito D'Rivera's stated goal for his Jazz Chamber Trio is to "unify in one single concept the delicate intimacy of chamber music, the spontaneity of jazz, plus the rhythmic power of Latin-American music." What his album The Jazz Chamber Trio proves is that D'Rivera is just the man for that job. He's absolutely magisterial here, equally impressive dashing through his fleet, angular take on "A Night in Tunisia" or caressing the melody in "Cristal" with a sustained quiet tone so seductive you could kiss it.

This trio features pianist Alon Yavnai and cellist Mark Summer, and D'Rivera's arrangements take full advantage of the instrumental possibilities, as when "Alfonsina y el Mar" begins with rippling piano chords and an ardent cello solo before gorgeous, decadent swoons from all three players. Sometimes the pieces have clear divides between genres; "Recorda a Papa" begins with a graceful intertwined melodic statement by D'Rivera and Summer that needs just a little bump to find its dance rhythm. But mostly this is music that lingers in an in-between space, solos coming naturally from ensemble writing and rhythms evolving from melodies. It only sounds easy if D'Rivera is leading the way.

Originally published in October 2005
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