Lynne Arriale Trio: Inspiration

Even in that most basic of jazz combo configurations, the trio, there is a surprising lack of total integration. What most often emerges is piano plus rhythm. Not so in the fertile mind of Lynne Arriale. Of course, she’s blessed by her regular rhythm section behind her-make that with her: drummer Steve Davis, who is also a remarkable engineer, and bassist Jay Anderson

On Inspiration, Arriale’s seventh CD, each voice is indispensable to the total sound. It would be interesting to hear Arriale in a less compatible context, say, an open jam session. Is her lack of domination on the CD because the whole precisely equals the sum of its parts? Then again, where is it written that the keyboard must dominate? No matter: Arriale is one of the most intellectual, introspective and insightful swingers on the current scene, bringing a flawless touch, an impeccable sense of complex rhythms and a harmonic curiosity to everything she attempts. Bernstein’s “America” could easily be called “Trinidad”; “A House Is Not a Home” and “The Nearness of You” are so exquisite they make you want to cry; she can just as easily make you laugh with her playful, disjointed take on Monk’s “Bemsha Swing.”

Inspiration’s highlight is her tantalizingly slow “It Don’t Mean a Thing,” guaranteed to leave dancers with their left feet up in the air at the end of the “doo-wahs.”