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Bruce Barth: Don’t Blame Me

Barth, an alumnus of gigs with Terence Blanchard, Steve Wilson and numerous New York jam sessions, comes across as his own person on this trio CD. While there are hints of Monk, Evans, Jarrett and Zeitlin in his piano style, his playing is neither a mosaic of great pianists nor a copy of any single influence. How refreshing!

From the title cut, we learn that Barth likes to break things up: alter rhythms, explore linear byways, uncover a chordal gem or two in a spare, Monkish way. This is further developed on his “Prospect Blues” and Monk’s “Evidence.” “Days of June,” another Barth original, is a more fluid, mellow performance, as is “Autumn in New York,” the most harmonically rich track on the album. “Fascinating Rhythm” employs a New Orleans beat and shows the rhythmic rapport between Barth and drummer Billy Drummond. Bassist Ed Howard completes the trio in admirable fashion, both as a firm-toned ensemble player and as a thoughtful soloist.

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