Lynne Arriale: America
Lynne Arriale (piano)
Inspiration (TCB - The Montreux Jazz Label)
Composed by Leonard Bernstein.
Recorded: Nashville, TN, 2001
Rating: 97/100 (learn more)
Ever since winning the International Great American Jazz Piano Competition in 1993 Lynne Arriale has mesmerized critics and audiences from Montreux to Tokyo. Yet many are still unfamiliar with this brilliant and prolific keyboard magus. Her arrangements are always uniquely personal, her playing, intense and electrifying, almost as if her life is being channeled into the keys.
While Inspiration has been out for a few years, it remains a delight for listeners on all levels. “America,” the show-stopper from Bernstein’s West Side Story, loses nothing in this edgy, explosive arrangement. Based on the hemiola, a Latin American folk dance with alternating measures of 6/8 and 3/4, this number has always presented a rhythmic challenge for players; but they are easily navigated by this tight-knit trio. With solid, empathetic support from bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Steve Davis, Arriale channels unbridled passion into the melody, tinged with a hint of dissonance and anger. Straightening out the time with a pronounced Caribbean feel, her piano assumes the playful, pentatonic personae of an island steel drum. Davis takes over with a brief, bounding and beefy drum solo before the trio takes it home, restating the head with ironic intensity sure to have us dancing on the rooftops.
Reviewer: Bill Barnes