Alan Broadbent has played in major bands like Charlie Haden’s Quartet West, has made over a dozen strong piano-trio albums, and has won Grammy Awards for his work as an arranger. Developing Story is the high point of his career to date.
The 26-minute title track, in three movements, opens by introducing two themes, a forte figure from the London Metropolitan Orchestra and a solo-piano song. Broadbent the composer derives vast, rich content from these two core ideas, moving them through different sections of the orchestra, in many tempos and textures and levels of intensity. Broadbent the pianist (solo or in a trio with bassist Harvie S and drummer Peter Erskine) keeps inventing new corollaries of these themes. In the second movement, after a graceful piano improvisation in waltz time, the orchestra sweeps in and insists upon the song introduced in the first movement. This simple melodic idea becomes high drama. Only very large ensembles can provide such aural experiences. Broadbent understands a symphony orchestra’s capacity for envelopment, for seductive lushness and for sheer physical power.