While loss happens in an instant, the grief that follows can linger long after life appears to be back to normal. Remembrance, pianist Danny Grissett’s first album on Savant and sixth as a leader, taps into this idea of endurance as homage; the project is a tribute to his older brother Robert Grissett Jr., who died in 2015. A tracklist split almost evenly between new compositions and standards gives a glimpse into Grissett’s inner life and evolution during this period: original songs that evoke sorrow, and select covers, of tunes by or associated with Ellington, Diz, Billie, Monk and Herbie, that convey perseverance and recovery.
It’s a therapeutic listen, an unfussy quartet playing jazz at its most durable and heartfelt. Grissett’s band—saxophonist Dayna Stephens, bassist Vicente Archer and drummer Bill Stewart—find the same easy, lyrical and polished sound on his original musical reflections as they do on the more familiar melodies (Stewart’s delicate swing also ties the tunes together). The quartet’s fluidity and thoughtful restraint make the angular “Gallop’s Gallop” and dreamy “Just Enough” sound like they belong in the same universe, both rendered timeless by Grissett’s romantic, evocative playing. He and Stephens engage with the album’s melodies in a way that is neither flashy nor dull but simply deep. “Renatus” (“born again” in Latin) is the highlight of Grissett’s originals, a melancholy yet buoyant tune featuring the leader on organ.
On the album’s finale, the standard “Detour Ahead,” Grissett’s performance is breathtaking—lush and beautiful while steering clear of cliché. Archer and Stewart offer intuitive accompaniment to his understated performance, which perfectly encapsulates the beauty that can come from tragedy.