Dan Cray: Meridies

A Chicago native and newcomer to New York City, pianist Dan Cray joins with bassist Clark Sommers, drummer Mark Ferber and tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger on his sixth CD as a leader. Originals like the Latin-tinged “Worst Enemy,” the breezy waltz-time “East 69” and the gently swinging “Winter Rose (1728)” show the scope of Cray’s writing and improvisational skills. Preminger’s breathy tenor tones are prominently featured on the smoky ballad “Amor Fati,” performed as an intimate duet with the pianist, and the remarkably empathetic Ferber is showcased on the percolating “March of the Archetypes.” Cray also offers a cascading, contrapuntal 7/4 arrangement of Charlie Chaplin’s “Smile” and a spirited take on Joe Henderson’s “Serenity,” which turns Preminger loose with a breakneck solo. Meridies is an intelligent, exhilarating outing.