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Harold Danko: Unriched

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After a recent recording date, saxophonist Rich Perry’s rhythm section took a sort of busman’s holiday and cut a trio session-hence the clever title. With additional studio time available, pianist Harold Danko, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Jeff Hirshfield revisited several jazz and pop favorites. How Perry spent the rest of the day is anyone’s guess, but his bandmates certainly made the most of his absence, fashioning a series of performances that manage to sound both relaxed and thought-out.

Given the circumstances, it’s no surprise that an air of spontaneity infuses the album, beginning with a jaunty take on “Sweet and Lovely.” It’s brightened by Danko’s rippling chromaticism and powered by his resounding left hand, to say nothing of Hirshfield’s insistent but unfussy brand of swing. Another enhancement-again, no surprise-is the Anderson-wrought solo interlude that helps elevate this track and others to come.

The trio moves on to salute five of Danko’s favorite artists: McCoy Tyner, via a deeply soulful interpretation of “Search for Peace”; Thelonious Monk, who is represented by the delightfully rambunctious and evocative “Criss Cross”; Hoagy Carmichael, who inspires an unabashedly sentimental version of “The Nearness of You”; Ornette Coleman, who no doubt would get a big kick out of hearing the trio’s kinetic treatment of “The Blessing”; and, saved for last, Bob Haggart’s “What’s New?,” ruminatively explored by Danko and Hirschfield and crisply accented by Anderson’s brushwork.

Originally Published