Greg Reitan: Some Other Time

Greg Reitan image 0
Thomas Conrad

Greg Reitan

Pianists in their debut recordings rarely sound as poised and centered and fully formed as Greg Reitan. He waited until he was 35 to make Some Other Time, and he is a thoroughly schooled musician with an extensive résumé as a composer for film and television. Still, it is impressive that every track here postulates a different challenging concept and executes it, seemingly without breaking a sweat.

Reitan plays done-to-death Cole Porter tunes with fresh, glistening elegance (“All of You”), uncovers and freely decorates little-known gems (Vince Guaraldi’s “Star Song”), hits a playfully nasty funk groove on a Beatles song (“Dear Prudence”), and makes “Giant Steps” sound like a blocky waltz. He also writes intelligent songs of his own. The best is a hovering, ambivalent ballad, “The Wayfarer.”

Reitan’s strengths are his clarity and his sensitive, precise touch. Pianists with surfaces this polished sometimes lack depth. Not Reitan. His “Time Remembered” is one of the most affecting renderings of that song’s emotion since its composer, Bill Evans, stopped playing it. The title track also alludes to Evans because its gentle two-chord vamp melds Leonard Bernstein’s composition with Evans’ “Peace Piece,” and turns “Some Other Time” into a dead slow, fervent ritual.