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Rick Germanson: You Tell Me

There is an appealing heaviness and density to Rick Germanson’s playing that represents yet another distinctive, valid approach to the infinitely variable art form of the piano trio. Very little here is suitable for late-night contemplation and consolation. Instead Germanson offers serious chops humanized by the infectious pleasure he takes in the creative pianistic process. He also compels the listener’s full attention with his thick chord voicings, irregular phrasing and fresh takes on group form.

Two factors that enhance the realization of You Tell Me are the sidemen and the recorded sound. Bassist Gerald Cannon’s groove is deep but sophisticated, and drummer Ralph Peterson is a lashing whirlwind of polyrhythms. The sound, by engineer Mike Marciano, is close-focused and dynamic.

Germanson writes interesting tunes, some dark (the churning “Entropy,” the incantatory “Dance of the Forgotten”), some light (the exuberant vamp “Theme for Eliot,” the harmonically and metrically ambiguous “Erika’s Endeavor”). His standards are nonstandard, such as “It Was a Very Good Year,” which becomes a fast off-kilter waltz with a ferocious Peterson drum break and is utterly without its usual wistfulness. The two nominal ballads, “Angel Eyes” and “Born to Be Blue,” are hit hard enough to sustain the album’s sweeping urgency.

Originally Published