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Lynne Arriale Trio: Come Together

“Pristine” is the best word to describe both Lynne Arriale’s pianism and the playing of her trio. Throughout the trio’s newest album, Come Together (Motema), her tone stays luminous and her attack gentle, even when she and her trio are flying through complex, driving rhythms in “Braziliana” or trading fragments of a quick melody in “Sunburst.” She marries this gorgeous tone to unerring dynamic judgment and a gift for simple, eloquent phrasing on ballads like “Twilight” or the traditional song “Red Is the Rose.” Bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Steve Davis both provide diligent, nuanced support and take numerous involving solos. As undeniably impressive as this playing is, though, it sometimes feels overdetermined and deliberate: “Flamenco” has plenty of dark color but no romantic desperation, while on “Iko, Iko” Arriale and Davis seems to hit the limit on some sort of governor every time they push the volume or rhythm. They never put a foot wrong harmonically, but they never take a bold direction that sheds new light on the material, either. As beautifully as Arriale’s trio plays on Come Together, they’d sound even better if they threw in a harsh note every now and again.

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