A Beautiful Thing!
It’s hard to imagine someone not being moved in one way or another by the performances captured on A Beautiful Thing! If the rhythmically buoyant arrangements don’t do the trick on a purely physical level, then certainly pianist Pete Malinverni’s spiritual thrust and soulful interpretations will.
The album’s title track, one of several Malinverni compositions found here, kicks off the session with a bounce. It’s a celebration of family commitments and, not unlike the subsequent rendering of “In the Garden of the Eternal Optimist,” radiates good cheer in a fashion that occasionally evokes shades of Brubeck and Guaraldi. In between these tracks, however, you’ll find Malinverni in a deeply meditative mood, exploring the Bacharach/David ballad “A House Is Not a Home” with a quiet, spacious, sensitive touch. Later, he salutes another contemporary composer in a similarly thoughtful manner, offering an evocative take on Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes.” Bright or blues-tinted, these and other performances are neatly animated by Malinverni’s bandmates, bassist Lee Hudson and drummer Eliot Zigmund, with whom the pianist shares an easy rapport.
Among the album’s spiritual highlights are performances that reflect Malinverni’s inquisitive nature and resourcefulness. “Evocative” was inspired, at least in part, by Haydn’s “The Last Seven Words of Christ,” and both “Nefesh Soul” and “Go Down, Moses” underscore cross-cultural connections. Even so, jazz fans unaware of Malinverni’s intent or influences shouldn’t have any problem appreciating the album’s depth and charms.