Andy Laverne/Dave Samuels: Between Earth and Mars

There’s no doubting Andy LaVerne’s technical skill on the piano and his impressive credentials, which include fusion, big band, straightahead and some impressive solo works. Sometimes, though, you wish for a melodic moment, a little swing, some joy. It’s not overwhelmingly apparent on this trio led by LaVerne and vibist Dave Samuels, who distinguished himself with Spyro Gyra, and bassist Jay Anderson. There’s no doubting the improvisational skills throughout the nine works, but instead of coalescing into a memorable session, the proceedings suffer from far too many tangents and not nearly enough teamwork. There are moments: Samuels’ “Tri-Tones” and Gary Peacock’s “B.E.” build slowly to satisfying conclusions, and LaVerne’s title song is propelled by Samuels’ pounding strokes. But too often concepts are left undeveloped and wandering, even tunes by Bill Evans (“Blue and Green”), Herbie Hancock (“Maiden Voyage”) and the time-tested, Miles-defined “On Green Dolphin Street.”

LaVerne takes a chance here by fronting a piano-vibes-bass trio. In this case, however, the added rhythmic presence would have worked wonders.