The Venezuelan pianist Luis Perdomo is more than just a Latin-jazz titan (although much of his work with Miguel Zenón, and the Criss Cross label release The Infancia Project, is recommended in that vein). He’s also a postbopper who can burn, and a sensitive scholar capable of stunning etudes and feathery midtempo ballads. The lush but invigorating Montage-Perdomo’s first solo recording among his eight albums-showcases this more refined side of his artistry.
The material at hand is purposefully broad in scope. But whether it’s a dance track like “Mambo Mongo” or a pulsating stride-cum-postbop number like Stanley Cowell’s “Cal Massey,” Perdomo chooses to ease away from the harsh beats or breakneck momentum, generating a two-handed conversation without losing the rhythmic essence of the songs. When he dips deep into his Latin roots he plumbs for beauty, especially on his gorgeous rendition of the bolero “Si te Contara,” by the Cuban violinist and bandleader Félix Reina Altuna, and the chamber piece “La Revuelta de Don Fulgencio,” by his teacher Gerry Weil. The most familiar standards are inventively tweaked, with Perdomo soft-pedaling the brittle angularity of “Monk’s Dream” in favor of more resonance and density, and deconstructing “Body and Soul” just enough to avoid the appearance of it serving as a tacked-on encore.
Five of the eight Perdomo originals here are short, impressionistic pieces dotted throughout the program that echo the title of the record. Most are self-explanatory-“Montage Fleeing” is impulsive and chaotic, “Montage Angst” is agitated, “Montage Air” lingers pleasantly-but the winner of the bunch (also the longest) is clearly “Montage Sleepwalker,” which uses contrasting timbres to generate both a spectral and tangibly-specific ambiance. The standalone originals are anchored by engaging melodies (“Amani” and “The Sky Beyond”) or, in the case of the ambitious “The Boundary Law,” flowing, majestic, neoclassical bop. In all, Montage is likely to further burnish Perdomo’s reputation as a rich, comprehensively capable pianist.