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December 2006

Laszlo Gardony
Natural Instinct
Sunnyside

This piano trio album gets off to an unpromising start. The opening title track repeats its single rhythmic hook and single circular melodic idea in the vain hope that they will become infectious. The second piece, “Revolution,” is revolutionary only in that it, too, goes round and round. They are Laszlo Gardony originals. The third tune, “Hidden Message,” is by Gardony’s son Aaron. It possesses potential for intrigue, as the piano’s spare chords and small suggestive figures float over bassist John Lockwood’s extended ostinato. “Hidden Message” could generate incantatory resonance if Gardony’s pianistic subtleties contained more inner urgency. But his light-handed caution creates a quality of blandness. At times his repetitiousness sounds like Abdullah Ibrahim without the submerged fire.

Gardony’s best original here is “Thinking of Stella” because its ideas are open-ended and do not always resolve predictably. His interpretations of standards are marginally more interesting. “Motherless Child” rouses itself to crispness if not to intense emotion. On “Softly (As in a Morning Sunrise),” Lockwood’s bass takes the lead, creating a welcome fresh perspective, and Gardony’s solo is his strongest and most concentrated of the session. Horace Silver’s “Peace” was probably chosen because of its gentle theme. Gardony provides some graceful, pastel elaborations on it.

Originally published in December 2006
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