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John Stetch: Fabled States

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With bassist Joe Martin and drummer Greg Ritchie, pianist John Stetch travels from the “Black Sea Suite,” which addresses his own Ukrainian heritage through a Brubeck-ian filter, to the frozen tundra on “Alaska Outdoor Piano Showroom,” performed presumably on a piano exposed to the northern elements (and thus badly in need of tuning). “Oscar’s Blue Green Algebra” is a gospel-tinged paean to fellow Canadian piano hero Oscar Peterson, and “Lute Song” recalls the delicacy and shimmering lyricism of Keith Jarrett. The trio swings loosely on the bracing, boppish “Plutology,” and they turn in a decidedly Monk-ish take on Bill Evans’ “Very Early,” retitling it “Very Nutty.” (In 2004, Stetch released a solo piano recording of reimagined Monk tunes entitled Exponentially Monk.) Stetch and Ritchie also strike a Zen-like accord on the improvised “Norbu 7.7.” For kicks there’s the bluegrass-influenced “Do Telepromptu” and the microtonal bop of “What the McHeck,” performed on prepared piano. Wickedly clever.

Originally Published