Jake Pinto does spring break a bit differently than most of his college peers. He headed home from New York University to Sarasota FL for a week mixing beach time and several music appearances. The pianist brought at least five of his frequent musical collaborators and other friends along for the ride.
He and his band performed a couple of tunes at Tuesday night's South County Jazz Club jam session at Allegro Bistro in Venice. Wednesday brought a private party engagement. On Friday, he performed at Piano Distributors in Sarasota with bassist Alejandro Arenas and drummer Mark Feinman, with whom he worked extensively before shuffling off to college. Today, he's headed back to the Big Apple. Pinto is a musical explorer who seems deeply embedded in a Thelonious Monk phase. That's not a band thing - and iit is a far different musical influence than most 21 year olds have today. If Pinto isn't playing a Monk tune, he's adding a Monkish style of off-kilter and staccato phrasing and angular melodic twists to other material, as if it were the way Monk might play them were he still with us.
Some of Friday's treats included his takes on "Stars Fell on Alabama, "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise," Charlie Parker's "Billie's Bounce," and "Beautiful Love." This was Pinto's first opportunity to play with Arenas and Feinman in about a year. He'd met them when he was 15 and credits them with nurturing his interest in jazz.
The two NYU student trumpeters along on this adventure, Rhys Tivey (left) and Mike Fatum, joined the trio for a wide-ranging exploration of "Body and Soul." Like Pinto, both lead their own bands back in New York and are part of a lot of cross collaborations. Tivey, to the general populace, may be best known for playing "Amazing Grace" last year at the funeral of his grandmother, actress Elizabeth Taylor.
These are talents still under development who are already gigging and making names for themselves on the New York jazz and club scene. It will be interesting to watch - and hear - their continued development.