In an era where everything tends toward greater speed and density, it's refreshing to encounter a player like Pete Malinverni. Instead of jamming as many runs into a phrase as possible, Malinverni lets each note ring. In the hauntingly soulful ballad "Psalm 100," Malinverni's use of space is as significant as the notes he actually plays. Even at a medium tempo like that taken for "Beautiful Love," the music breathes.
The New York-based Malinverni, who's worked with Sam Noto and Joe Lovano, derives intensity from an astringent melodic approach recalling the implosive lyricism of Bill Evans on the one hand, and the quirky harmonics of Thelonious Monk on the other. His phrasing is deliciously deceptive. In his treatment of the standard "Shadow of Your Smile," just as you think you've deduced his direction, he pulls the carpet from under you. His sounds of surprise are subtle. Therefore, one has to really listen, instead of relying on crash-bang cues "announcing" another tack. Malinverni's marvelously individual style is abetted by the simpatico Dennis Irwin on bass and the feathered pulse of drummer Leroy Williams.