Greg Reitan: Post No Bills

Perhaps it’s because he didn’t record his first album until age 35 that pianist Greg Reitan’s music has projected a mature, fully formed sensibility since that debut in 2009. And perhaps it’s because he’s used the same trio on each, with Jack Daro on bass and Dean Koba playing drums, that Reitan’s four Sunnyside releases feel of a piece, an ongoing story that deepens with each new chapter. What’s most noticeable about Post No Bills isn’t only that the trio continues to hone its craft as a collective but that, in doing so, it slowly but surely sheds its ties to its influences. Like each of its predecessors, the new album balances Reitan originals-three of them this time-with standards that reveal the well from which he draws inspiration. But Post No Bills, more so than the others, sounds like nothing but a Greg Reitan session.

Defining Reitan’s piano style isn’t easy because he’s not easily boxed in. That said, he’s most at home with light-touch, fleet-fingered runs on the uptempo numbers (Keith Jarrett’s “The Mourning of a Star,” Chick Corea’s “Windows”) and broad, elegiac statements on the ballads (Horace Silver’s “Lonely Woman,” Reitan’s own “Solitude”). “Stella by Starlight,” its first minute given over to a contemplative solo deliberation by Daro, soon enough switches gears to a waterfall of upper-register piano, an outburst of drums and, finally, a measured denouement that puts the pieces back together. The Reitan-penned title track, intro’d by the pianist alone, graceful and sure, is transformed midway through into a frolicsome and gregarious chase scene.

Greg Reitan, it would certainly appear by now, is firmly committed both to honoring the piano trio tradition and ensuring that it doesn’t get stuck in a rut.

Originally Published