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Roberta Piket: Emanation (Solo: Volume 2)

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At one time, pianists could be chastised for having a “weak left hand,” which simply played chords while the right hand did all the heavy lifting. On her second album of solo piano, Roberta Piket proves that not only is her left hand well equipped, it often drives the songs with its sharp rhythmic attack. This is clear from the opening moments, when she unleashes a strong “Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise” in which the low riff gives it a potent charge. The choice to reframe a classic in an odd time signature can be more about chops and less about feeling, but Piket’s 7/4 take on “Con Alma” swings delicately, especially when both hands move in parallel lines toward the end of her solo.

Emanation (Solo: Volume 2) presents a far-flung set of material showing the pianist’s wide range. Two Piket originals, “Saying Goodbye” and “Emanation,” stand out for moments that sound delicate and haunting, respectively. “Ba Lue Bolivar Ba Lues” [sic] doesn’t attempt to replicate Thelonious Monk’s off-center take on the blues, but she maintains the angular, playful spirit of the original. The album’s most ambitious moment comes in “Actual Proof,” the busy Herbie Hancock piece from his electric ’70s period. Here, Piket’s dexterity is on full display, the left hand managing the tasks of the whole rhythm section, still adding pregnant pauses and sustain so as not to make it sound too crowded. Following that, she closes the album with a fantasy on Chopin’s “Prelude Op. 28 No. 2 in A Minor.” It’s a rather somber final statement, but one that makes perfect sense after this diverse, engaging set.

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