Joey Calderazzo: Lunacy




Joey Calderazzo (piano)


The Traveler (Blue Note 80902)

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Joey Calderazzo (piano), Jay Anderson (), Jeff Hirshfield (drums).

Composed by Joey Calderazzo


Recorded: New York City, 1992


Rating: 98/100 (learn more)

Calderazzo's third and final Blue Note release in 1993, The Traveler, was one of the best piano trio albums by a young jazz pianist to see the light of day in the '90's. It should have catapulted his career as a leader, but instead he replaced the late Kenny Kirkland in the Branford Marsalis Quartet at the end of the decade, where he has remained ever since, most recently also getting to record under his own name for Branford's "Marsalis Music" label.

Calderazzo is a pianist who can break your heart on ballads, or dazzle you on the up-tempo burners. "Lunacy," from The Traveler, falls into the latter category. The track features an urgent modal theme that Calderazzo plays twice before initiating an extended five-minute solo. His darting, dancing runs and modulating motifs build incessantly, with Anderson and especially Hirshfield in tight interactive rapport. A thrilling tension and release prevails throughout Calderazzo's brilliant excursion, and Hirshfield's drum rolls, bass drum bombs, and snapped hi-hat accents match the pianist's intense aggression. Calderazzo's solo reaches a peak of near-manic two-handed dissonant interplay, until he finally reacknowledges the theme, now a mere adjunct to the detailed, enriching content of his improv.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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