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Alan Broadbent: You and the Night and the Music

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You and the Night and the Music is Alan Broadbent’s 10th piano-trio recording. It comprises seven standards, each addressed with the kind of effortless fluency and suave certainty of style that enables a listener to simply relax and surrender. In Broadbent’s case, “style” is not a surface attribute; it is an approach to melodic and harmonic variation so sophisticated in its decorum that it is not separable from substance. It is an approach in which musical elegance serves to express complex feelings, albeit with a gentleman’s restraint.

“I Wish I Knew” is first enfolded in elaborate embellishments that continually reference the thread of the theme. Subtle tension accumulates as rapt urgency gathers but is held in check. After Brian Bromberg’s long, twisting, sliding dance of a bass solo, there is a revelatory moment when Broadbent reenters in a single-note ascension that insists on the song while releasing it.

“Baubles, Bangles and Beads” and the title track are examples of Broadbent’s ability to transform old songs through a wealth of new, modern details. But the most extended, far-ranging example of his creative process is “What’s New.” He wrings out the song so thoroughly that, by the end, he has exhausted it and can only conclude by throwing in “My Mama Done Told Me.”

With the quick-on-quick Brian Bromberg on bass (who is given generous space for his searching, articulate solos) and the supremely subtle Joe La Barbera on drums, Broadbent’s ensemble is one of the most accomplished piano trios now playing jazz.

The A440 label presents this refined music in an appropriately high-class package, with vivid, lucid sound by engineer Tom McCauley.