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Dave Frank: Turning It Loose

Dave Frank taught for 17 years at Berklee and now directs the Dave Frank School of Jazz in Manhattan. His new album can be admired as a dissertation on the largest issue facing the solo jazz pianist, which is how the left hand deals with the absence of a bassist. Frank’s left hand is uncommonly adept, and he meets the challenge with a large variety of ostinatos and half-time bass lines and octave melodies and atypical pedal points, and sometimes even a powerful 4/4 walk and traditional comping chords.

But such characterizations miss the spontaneity and freshness that Frank brings to this project. His angle on every song here is unexpected and revealing. He slows “Without A Song” into a rapt, quintessential two-minute miniature. “Here’s That Rainy Day” is syncopated almost beyond recognition by its teetering bass line. “A Night In Tunisia” hurtles forward with as much force as any quintet ever gave it, but curls back on itself with a freedom only available to the solo pianist.

Frank also writes imaginative songs. “Snow Falls On 5th Ave.” is vividly visual.

Originally Published