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Harold Danko: Three of Four

The premise of this album is that each performance is in three-quarter time and the musicians are three-quarters of Danko’s quartet-tenor saxophonist Rich Perry is the missing member. Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz,” the opener, has an obvious “three” feeling, but performances such as Randy Weston’s “Little Niles” and Andrew Hill’s “Black Fire” make you forget about time signatures. The Danko trio’s versatility in matters of subtlety, mood-setting, and rhapsodic playing versus taut, angular playing is a hallmark of this album. Bassist Scott Colley and drummer Jeff Hirshfield move skillfully from the role of accompanists to equal partners with the pianist.

Dollar Brand’s powerful, Afro-gospelish “Tintiyana” contrasts with Kenny Wheeler’s floating, lyrical “Everybody’s Song but My Own.” The trio convincingly makes the emotional transition from earthy, percussive playing on the former to Bill Evans Trio-like delicacy on the latter. A similar juxtaposition occurs with the dissonant, spidery lines of “Black Fire” and the songlike beauty of Gerry Mulligan’s “Walk on the Water.” Danko even finds something new in Monk’s “Ruby, My Dear” and Evans’ “Blue in Green,” a couple of sacred jazz texts hard to separate from their composers’ piano versions.

Originally Published