June 1998

Peggy Stern
Room Enough
E1 Music

For this self-produced outing the crafty pianist is joined by bassist Harvie Swartz and drummer Jeff Williams. Ms. Stern often conveys a vaguely Monk-like quirkiness in her playing, in how she runs the chords, her intervals, and her architecture in building an improvisation; case in point is her piece "Lemonessence," a bittersweet bit of business to be sure. Five of the eleven tracks are products of Stern's fertile pen and the personal keyboard touch seems particularly zeroed in on the originals, not to say she doesn't do equal justice to the five standards. Exemplary of the standards is her treatment of "Crazy He Calls Me," which elicits a lovely tenderness.

Elsewhere there is a sense of melancholia and wistfulness that opens windows to her soul. She addresses the all-time splendor of Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" and "Alone Together" sans accompaniment, the latter recalling Randy Weston in its left hand low end of the keyboard expressions.

Originally published in June 1998

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