Lynne Arriale is a powerful pianist with a strong melodic sense and a taste for well-built pop tunes. Sparked by remarkable bass and oud player Omer Avital, tensile, tasteful drummer Anthony Pinciotti and Bill McHenry, a tenor saxophonist who can be broad-shouldered in one tune and breathy in the next, Arriale turns in six largely nature-themed originals and five cover versions that sample pop from the ’60s to the ’90s. Convergence is a wholly appropriate title.
Arriale delivers a sober take on Nine Inch Nails’ “Something I Can Never Have,” one of Trent Reznor’s earliest and most stately cuts; a romantic rendition of Sting’s “Sister Moon”; an appropriately rococo and imaginative update of the Rolling Stones’ driving “Paint It Black,” featuring a thoughtful Avital bass solo; an edgy update of Blondie’s “Call Me” featuring burly McHenry; and a “Here Comes the Sun” that stresses George Harrison’s melody but doesn’t push it far enough. It’s the one track that seems a tad anemic despite Avital’s resonant bass.
Of the originals, the highlight is “Dance of the Rain,” a beautiful, flamenco-inflected tune featuring Avital’s lively oud; it makes you want to run outside into a summer shower, it’s so lovely. So is “The Simple Things,” a relaxed ballad featuring an Arriale less percussive—which she can be—than pearly. “Here and Now,” the hottest original, is hard, stirring postbop featuring oracular McHenry sax and propulsive, excitingly busy Pinciotti drumming. The sturdy architecture Arriale brings to her playing generates memorable jazz no matter the source material.