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Peter Martin: In the P.M.

Peter Martin is music director, producer, arranger and pianist for Dianne Reeves, and the trio on his new In the P.M., with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Greg Hutchinson, constitutes Reeves’ current touring band.

No one who enjoys jazz piano played with enthusiasm and facility could fail to be entertained by In the P.M. But Martin’s music has limitations that might be expressed in a baseball analogy. Promising rookies with 95-mph fastballs who have not yet mastered their craft are sometimes described as “throwers not pitchers.”

Martin throws everything he has at almost every track, but without the pacing and contrast and authentic emotional discovery essential to the telling of meaningful musical stories. “Never Let Me Go,” a song that, in the keeping of an artist like Keith Jarrett, becomes a chilling personal (and universal) plea, is merely an exercise here, pummeled into submission by Martin’s busy hands. “Come Rain or Come Shine” begins meditatively but is soon overwhelmed in density and overstatement.

Martin’s cause is helped neither by Hutchinson’s frequent eruptions of unrelated racket in the right channel, nor the overloaded recorded sound. Jessie Davis’ “Only in a Dream” and J.J. Johnson’s “Lament” are more appealing ballads because they are relatively focused and restrained. The three tracks featuring vocalist Erin Bode, with her clear, unassuming diction, are best. They place Martin in what is, at this point in his career, his most effective role: that of singer’s accompanist.

Originally Published