Pascal Le Boeuf, Pascal’s Triangle (Nineteen-Eight)One of the most interesting number patterns is Pascal's Triangle, which is named after French mathematician Blaise Pascal. One of the more interesting modern acoustic jazz trios is Pascal’s Triangle, led by pianist Pascal Le Boeuf with very strong support from bassist Linda Oh and drummer Justin Brown. The trio’s eponymous CD debut celebrates the players’ adventurous chemistry on eight original Le Boeuf compositions. There is a wide variety of material to savor here with a variety of rhythms and melodies. Some will dig their fresh angular intensity. I relished the more balladic material, including “Song for Ben Van Gelder” and “Return to You.” The more uptempo and mood-shifting “Home in Strange Places” and “Variations on a Mood” are also exquisite.
Marc Cary, For the Love of Abbey (Motéma)This is a tour de force for the technique and the emotion that Marc Cary conveys. It’s his first solo piano recording in a career that has seen him accompany vocalists ranging from Betty Carter, Abbey Lincoln and Shirley Horn to Erykah Badu and Ani DiFranco, among others. Here, he pays homage to Lincoln, for whom he played piano for a dozen years. The CD includes eight tunes written by Lincoln – who had a style and sound all her own – plus Duke Ellington’s “Melancholia,” which Lincoln loved to hear him play, and two Cary originals: “For Moseka” and the interlude “Transmutate.” Anyone greatly familiar with Lincoln’s work before she died in 2010 will hear her words resonate through Cary’s lyric interpretations from the keyboard – and his heart.
Classic Jazz Trio, Emily (self-produced)The band name says it all. This debut recording is all about classic jazz tunes interpreted in straight-ahead fashion by three Southwest Florida musicians: pianist Joe Delaney, bassist Kevin Mauldin and drummer-producer Phil Tirino. Delaney, who divides his year between Florida and Cape Cod, is a dynamic and fearless keyboard adventurer. Mauldin straddles two genres – as principal bassist for the Naples Philharmonic and a first-call jazz bassist when his classical concert schedule permits. Punta Gorda resident Tirino keeps a strong and creative beat on the various rhythms. Favorites: their bold and bluesy take on “Teach Me Tonight,” their interpretation of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova “Triste” and their extended, edgy romp through Paul Desmond’s “Take Five.” In concert, Delaney has a knack for turning one tune into five or six other melodies before resolving back into the original. He restrains himself on this session; offering just a few glimmers of other songs, particularly on “Triste” and “How High the Moon.” Perhaps we’ll be treated to more of that in the future.