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Walter Lang Trio: Softly as in a Morning Sunrise

Albums recorded in Munich are more, not less, likely to sound good. Unfortunately, Softly as in a Morning Sun-rise is an exception. Walter Lang’s piano here is hard and glassy. The recording of Rick Hollander’s drums, with their clanking cymbals, is obnoxious. The sound makes it even more difficult to come to terms with Lang, an intriguing, frequently off-putting pianist.

Lang writes some attractive lines, like “Casino Estoril” and “October Breeze,” and especially “Call on Bill,” which may be for Bill Evans. But he is more likely to come up with “Monsieur Hulot” or “D’Afrique,” which are ambiguous jumbles of oppositional elements: old/new, static/volatile, sing-song/complex, obvious/jarring. Lang’s eccentricities are self-conscious and his purposes are often elusive.

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