Offset Rhapsody offers further evidence of pianist James Carney's burgeoning talents as an inventive composer and compelling musician. On this new outing, Carney leads a supple and surprisingly subtle ten-piece ensemble through an impressive collection of originals that alternate between impressionistic mid-tempo excursions to edgy New Orleans-flavored workouts.
As a musician, Carney's light touch and romantic playing sometimes evoke the warm understated brilliance of Bill Evans, especially on the haunting "Tipperary Hill" and "All The Things They Were." But on funkier compositions like the shuffling "Swamp Blues" and the M-BASE informed "Photo Op," his angular phrasing indicates a strong reverence to Thelonious Monk. Like his previous recording, Offset Rhapsody places heavy emphasis on Carney's cinematic compositions that vary in moods and textures. But the compositional focus does not obscure the space for tasteful solos like bassist Darek Oleszkiewicz's beautifully lyrical commentary on "Lexicon," or trumpeter Ralph Alessi's passionate lead on "Yoknapatawpha Blues." Modern, seductive, and cerebral, Offset Rhapsody signals a talent deserving wider recognition.