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November 2005

Jeff Johnson, Dave Peck, Joe La Barbera
Good Road
Let's Play Stella

There is a subset of the jazz community that, if it had to, could subsist on piano trios alone. For those of us who belong to this group, Good Road is a find.

It could be described as a ballad album, as long as that phrase is not taken to imply an absence of urgency. Seven of the eight tracks are standards, but Dave Peck's creativity makes them sound like he starts from scratch with each one.

You might think you are tired of "Yesterdays." But Peck builds simple blocklike figures into a "Yesterdays" that you never hear coming, darkening this overplayed sweet song. He similarly sneaks up on "Green Dolphin Street," and "What Is This Thing Called Love?" is implied more than played. On an achingly slow and fervent "She Was Too Good to Me," bassist Jeff Johnson carries most of the emotion. His searching, poetic solos are a major reason for this trio's emotional authenticity. So are the meticulous shadings of Joe La Barbera, who, as Bill Evans knew, is a drummer born to complete the orchestra of the piano trio.

Originally published in November 2005
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