March 1999

Misha Alperin
North Story
ECM Records

Pianist Alperin's eight compositions (of nine), performed by his quintet including tenor and french horn doubling flugelhorn, are stark and terse realizations, owing much to Bartok and Brubeck. His own piano solos suggest a composed quality beneath their careful elucidations (Is "Etude" thus predictable?). Though Alperin's roots are eastern European, the CD's atmosphere invokes Norwegian sentiments, with an open cold landscape meant for listener indulgence (Jon Balke's ensembles produce a similar effect), offering bassist Terje Gewelt arco moments. Tenorist Tore Brunborg energetically pursues several rhythmic possibilities on the longest piece, "Afternoon," while for "North Story" and "Morning," both of which demand varying ruminations, he is much in synch with Alperin's meditations. Alperin wisely chose drummer Jon Christensen, an ECM regular, for those performances, given his deep experience with this music of silences, environmental allusions, and folk-inspired melodies, and throughout the CD he displays a remarkable sensitivity. Muscovite Arkady Shilkloper's role with bass is background, and periodic at that.

Originally published in March 1999
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