This album isn’t travel poster art. No self-respecting jazz musician would be so obvious. There must be irony, a deeper, sometimes darker or sometimes obliquely brighter perspective. This is the feeling you get from pianist and composer Pete Malinverni’s suite, which mixes clearly focused originals and the standards “I Love Paris” (with a “The Mooch”-like horn intro), “Chicago,” Lonely Town” and “There’s a Boat Dat’s Leavin’ Soon for New York.”
As a composer and arranger, Malinverni is as melodically and rhythmically direct and architectural as Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, which is not to say that he mimics either. As an improviser, he prefers hornlike, developmental single lines, often of the boppish variety. It appears that his early classical-music training and his job at Brooklyn’s Devoe Street Baptist Church, where he has been minister of music for 15 years, have influenced the structural clarity of his writing and playing, too.
Malinverni’s sidemen on this album include trumpeter Tim Hagans, tenor saxophonist Rich Perry, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Tom Melito, players with respected musical individuality. Hagans, whose harmonic modus operandi involves lines built on lots of chord extensions, shines on Malinverni’s “Istanbul,” and Perry, ever the subtle romanticist, delivers a melancholy solo for the ages on Leonard Bernstein’s “Lonely Town.” Malinverni’s stately, hymn-like “A City Called Heaven” signifies the high standard he has set for this project.