Alan Broadbent first made his name in 1975 with Irene Kral on her nocturnal piano-and-voice album Where Is Love? Since then, his most visible appearances as a pianist and arranger have been with singers: Barbra Streisand, Natalie Cole, Sue Raney, Georgia Mancio. While these collaborations have resulted in a comfortable career, including two Grammy wins and 13 nominations, they tell only half the story. Since the mid-’80s, he’s also been working with his own trio, a lower-profile yet creatively rewarding outlet. By the time Savant signed the group for 2019’s New York Notes, Broadbent’s rhythm section consisted of bassist Harvie S and drummer Billy Mintz; they return for the trio’s second Savant release, Trio in Motion.
There are two originals here (“I Hear You,” “Moonstones”) and many standards (including Lil Hardin Armstrong’s “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue,” Paul Desmond’s “Late Lament,” and Hoagy Carmichael’s “One Morning in May”). None of it challenges the format or redraws the rulebook for trio albums. Instead, like a classic Oscar Peterson record—think 1961’s The Sound of the Trio—it’s clean, sophisticated, and in the pocket.
The Armstrong, Desmond, and Carmichael renditions are unquestionably the best of the set. “Struttin’ with Some Barbecue” is propelled by a percolating samba beat from Mintz. The slow-burning “Late Lament” earns its high-velocity runs and displays Broadbent’s knack for tension and release. And the cascading progression of “One Morning in May” evokes a sunshower.
Not all of Trio in Motion’s 56 minutes are essential; a too-straight version of Bird’s “Relaxin’ at Camarillo” doesn’t catch fire, and the final third of the album seems to slip by unnoticed. But on the whole, it’s an appealing date with unquestionable highlights and no real lowlights, showing that this accompanist and improviser is more in motion than most.