Dan Siegel: Departure

Dan Siegel’s previous CD, Inside Out, had top-notch production values and big-name guests, but some of the tunes felt like he was stepping uncomfortably out of his happy zone. But Siegel is a pianist whose best stuff has always been acoustic-based jazz, and he’s firmly inside that zone on Departure, which includes bassist Brian Bromberg and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta.

Bromberg is on the acoustic bass exclusively, which makes even the first single, “Street Talk,” stand out on smooth-jazz radio. Most of the tracks are similarly compelling. Even on quasi-New Age tunes like “Friends Forever,” the trio’s interplay sparks a robustness not often heard in the genre. Of course, it helps to have saxophonist Bob Sheppard on that tune and on the title track, where his straightahead playing on smooth melodies adds style and great taste. In addition to guest guitarists Norman Brown and Grant Geissman, Siegel also called out to vocalist Bill Cantos to double the piano melody on the sublime “Across the Sea.”