Russ Lossing: Phrase 6

Russ Lossing is a pianist who always has structural issues on his mind, even when he engages in freeform improvisation. Working alongside an exceptionally aligned trio on Phrase 6 (Fresh Sound New Talent) comprised of bassist John Hebert and drummer Jeff Williams, Lossing directs performances that balance spontaneity with consciously formal playing. (Not so surprising coming from a pianist who reimagined the work of Bela Bartok on the Change of Time album.) The result though is refreshingly unstilted and, at times-hear the Irish ballad “Down By the Glenside'”-strikingly lyrical. Lossing can give you a lot to chew on, as in “Canto 1,” an open-ended improvisation that stretches over 11 minutes, but his own thoughtful playing, as well as the supple interplay of Hebert and Williams, consistently maintains interest. And the closer, a down-tempo take on Charlie Parker’s bop head “Dexterity,” effectively displays Lossing’s smarts and sense of humor.