Although he's not a household name, pianist Jack Reilly is a consummate musician of the highest order. His repertoire covers the waterfront from impressionistic European classical pieces to Ellington to avant-garde. Reilly investigates all his idioms with enormous clarity and passion that's never hinged by self-indulgent gimmicky.
With Masks, Reilly exhibits a naked ethos as he re-examines and deconstructs a handful of classics and originals. He paces his explorations quite evenly, as if he were performing at a recital, especially on the solo readings of "How Deep Is the Ocean" and "Fantasie/I Got Rhythm." On the introspective "Tandemoniam" he engages in a heady conversation with saxophonist Joe Maneri; and on the smoldering blues "Benedictus," Reilly is accompanied by a full ensemble that included some bewitching avant-gospel vocals by Sheila Jordan. The low fidelity tends to obscure some intriguing solos and group interplay, but overall Masks is a wondrous listen.