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Pat Bianchi: In the Moment (Savant)

Review of album by the organist featuring cameos from Kevin Mahogany and Pat Martino

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Cover of Pat Bianchi album In the Moment
Cover of Pat Bianchi album In the Moment

If you glance at the tracks listed here, you may be tempted to start out with two notable collaborations and one Willie Nelson-penned country classic. Not a bad move, as it turns out. The cameos by vocalist Kevin Mahogany, who died in late 2017, and guitar legend Pat Martino, organist Pat Bianchi’s mentor and bandmate, swiftly live up to expectations, albeit in sharply contrasting performances. And the thoroughly reinvigorated reprise of Nelson’s “Crazy” somehow manages to salute both Patsy Cline and vintage organ-combo traditions with as much ingenuity as ease. It’s just one of several reminders of Bianchi’s flair for devising fresh, compact arrangements.

Over the course of 10 tracks, Bianchi and a seasoned cast of session mates cover a lot of ground. Besides Nelson and Billy Eckstine—the prime inspiration for Mahogany’s luxe, soulful rendering of “I Want to Talk About You”—In the Moment features compositions by Chick Corea (“Humpty Dumpty”), Stevie Wonder (“Don’t You Worry ’Bout a Thing”), Miles Davis/Gil Evans (“Barracudas [General Assembly]”), Wayne Shorter (“Fall”), and Thelonious Monk (“Four in One”). Throughout, Bianchi, guitarist Paul Bollenback, and drummer Byron Landham make an agile, tightly cohesive trio. The keyboardist and guitarist often display a mutual talent for offsetting resonating atmospherics with flashing chromaticism, while Landham is busy neatly negotiating dynamic tempo shifts and tricky rhythmic displacements. It soon becomes clear that the trio’s special guests are prepared for similar challenges. So don’t be surprised when guitarist Peter Bernstein, vibist Joe Locke, and drummer Carmen Intorre, Jr. suddenly snare, and reward, your attention.

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