Alan Broadbent: Personal Standards

Personal Standards presents the pianist in a program of eight of his compositions and one by Putter Smith, the bassist in Broadbent’s trio for more than a decade. Longtime Broadbent drummer Frank Gibson, Jr. is replaced by Joe LaBarbera. The music is full of the customary rich colors and textures of Broadbent’s harmonic palette, and of his melodic lyricism. In addition, it has more rhythmic muscle than he sometimes applies. That is particularly true in “Consolation” and “Uncertain Terms,” the blues pieces that open and close the album, and in “Chris Craft.”

The enhanced swing may result from the participation of LaBarbera, the former Bill Evans drummer. So, too, may occasional forthright adaptations of Evans licks like the series of glissandos in thirds halfway through the waltz, “Song of Home.” Broadbent has long acknowledged Evans as one of his primary inspirations, along with Bud Powell. The aura, and sometimes the actuality, of Powell’s voicings inflect much of Broadbent’s playing here.

Antecedents aside, in his piano playing, as in the composing and arranging for which he is increasingly well known, Broadbent has become one of the most consistently impressive talents of his generation. His playing in Charlie Haden’s Quartet West has sometimes overshadowed that on his own albums. In Personal Standards, however, he is at the top of his game.