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Lynne Arriale Trio: Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival

Pianist Lynne Arriale has come a long way since completing master studies in classical piano at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music and making the shift to jazz about eight years ago. On her sixth album, a dramatic eight-tune set recorded live with drummer Steve Davis and bassist Jay Anderson in Miles Davis Hall at Switzerland’s 1999 Montreux Jazz Festival, she reaches another dazzling peak.

Opening with a knockout, snappy rendition of “Alone Together,” Arriale demonstrates the creativity, spontaneity and melodic expertise that have won her wider notice since her 1993 release, The Eyes Have It (DMP). Davis has been with her since the start and his versatility is central to this flexible trio which here features confident, responsive newcomer Anderson.

Arriale follows no hard-driven formula for reharmonizing melodies but strives for musical conversation with her cohorts. Her muscular, unconfined, exhilarating inventions are especially notable on the threesome’s energetic remake of “Seven Steps to Heaven,” which features a fine solo from Davis. Rendered with tenderhearted, graceful finesse and clarity, Arriale’s playing on the ballad “An Affair to Remember” and the gorgeous Brazilian-jazz classic “Estate” reveal tinges of her classical background.

A brilliant improviser, Arriale has absorbed plenty from her predecessors and peers, yet sounds like none of them. Immensely fluent in the language of jazz, she’s comfortable shaping a tune in any style or tempo. Such artistry provides compelling listening.

Originally Published