Andy LaVerne: Four Miles

Tributes to Miles Davis abound. This is one of the best-perhaps the best, a date marked by sensitivity, poise and maturity. The players are LaVerne, piano; Randy Brecker, trumpet and fluegelhorn; George Mraz, bass; Al Foster, drums. The program consists of tunes associated with Miles or his sidemen.

The quartet starts with “When You Wish Upon a Star,” a ballad. LaVerne clothes Brecker’s fluegelhorn in rhapsodic chords and then solos economically and lyrically. “Summertime” begins with the piano playing Gil Evans’ scalar background line from the famous Miles Ahead album as the Harmon muted trumpet evokes Miles. “Evokes” is an operative word throughout this album; Brecker is not an imitator.

Nor is LaVerne, although the touch of his teacher, Bill Evans, surfaces frequently in his playing.

LaVerne’s arrangements include reharmonization (evident on “When You Wish…,” “‘Round Midnight” and others) and structural extensions (“All Blues”), devices that give the date a unity beyond a jam session. It is clear that the musicians are playing thematically, too. You definitely need to check this album out.