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Laszlo Gardony: Life in Real Time

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Life in Real Time, recorded live at the Berklee Performance Center in Boston last year, is both familiar and not. The familiarity comes from pianist Laszlo Gardony’s coaction with his regular rhythm section, bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Israel. The trio has proven, over more than a dozen years, to be uncannily compatible, and that’s as true as ever here. Witness the early break in Gardony’s “The Other One” (no relation to the Grateful Dead jam), a short but sweet bit of steady, bluesy swinging that gives Gardony just enough room to get a little fancy and free but stops short of asking for more.

The new ingredient in the formula comes from the three tenor saxophonists Gardony has invited along: Don Braden, Bill Pierce and Stan Strickland bring a whole other vibe and discipline. As a collective the horns conspire to push the Gardony trio into places more rhythmic and less cerebral than it might head on its own. The opening “Bourbon Street Boogie” leaves no guesswork as to its inspiration: Gardony’s brief Professor Longhair/Dr. John-esque intro ushers in a feisty feast of horns, Pierce and Braden’s solos all about the party. “Gemstones” features stacked sax parts that ultimately give way to alternately industrious and contemplative solos from Pierce and Gardony, culminating in a free-for-all wind-down anchored by Lockwood and Israel.

Two standards, “Lullaby of Birdland” and “Motherless Children,” nestled among the Gardony originals, again give each guest saxophonist spotlight time. As those three take their turns, the core piano trio is right there, locking the proceedings tightly into place.

Originally Published