Greg Reitan’s album Post No Bills is an attractive, one. In addition and artistically speaking, it is a romantic plea to taste the musical charms of several celebrated composers as if dining at a magnificent banquet where music is served up in all of its glory. The charts are played with full cantabile, full enough to make the singers of fine arias quite envious. There is a wide spectrum of music ranging from George Gershwin’s elementally beautiful music from his operatic Porgy and Bess to Keith Jarrett’s “Mourning Of A Star” and the evanescent magic of Joe Sample and Will Jennings’ “One Day I’ll Fly Away,” the magnificent abstraction of Horace Silver’s “Lonely Woman” all the way down to the pianist’s own almost fragile and intimate compositions. In all of this music Mr. Reitan is masterful and assured. His playing is ethereal; almost misty, especially in works calling for delicacy and evocation.
As a pianist Greg Reitan has been given to playing that is characterised by exceptional clarity and technical report. His playing is never rushed, unless the notation calls for it. Then too, his fleet fingers address matters of emotion as well as technique. He plays lines that swirl and swerve like drunken wraiths, intoxicated only because they are driven by the splendour and wilful majesty of Mr. Reitan’s musicianship. “Stella By Starlight” is a case in point. The pianist takes Victor Young and Ned Washington’s classic composition, usually played as a ballad—sometimes in medium tempo—and winds it up to a breathtaking pace full of dramatic crescendos and perfectly timed diminuendos. Another glorious interpretation is “One Day I’ll Fly Away.” Nowhere else on the album is such elemental beauty in evidence such as it is expressed on this chart. It is almost as if the pianist has taken this piece from its shadows into the sunlight of its exquisiteness. If ever there was a chance that this perfection could be repeated yet again, Mr. Reitan does that on Chick Corea’s “Windows”.
On his own compositions Greg Reitan appears completely unrestrained to the extent that he almost throws caution to the winds. “Spring” is a marvelous composition full of exquisite accidentals that make for soaring melismas. This is a fine example of the pianist’s extreme flexibility; one where he even dares to let his virtuosity run away with the melody. On “Post No Bills,” not only is Mr. Reitan positively adventurous, but he even allows his otherwise brooding musical demeanour to be lifted up by a certain puckishness. But it is on another interpretation, a composition by Denny Zeitlin, “After The War” that he is most unrestrained; almost bathed in the unbridled ingenuity of the composition itself. In making such a display of the performance, Mr. Reitan does a dramatic turn with a build-up of inventive procedures and contrasts that the composition might bring.
In all of these performances there is the superb musical association with bassist Jack Daro and drummer Dean Koba. And of course, Mr. Reitan’s performances are admirable as far as interpretive skills and pianism go. In fact Post No Bills, the album, that is, might lay claim to be Mr. Reitan’s most excellent, expressive and warm-hearted to date. Not that earlier albums were cold and calculating in the first instance, but that this one is among the most admirable of any piano record in 2014 and then some.
Track List: The Mourning of a Star; One Day I’ll Fly Away; Stella By Starlight; Lonely Woman; Spring; I Loves You Porgy; Windows; After the War; Post No Bills; Solitude.
Personnel: Greg Reitan: piano; Jack Daro: bass; Dean Koba: drums.
Label: Sunnyside Records| Release date: September 2014
About Greg Reitan
A native of Seattle, WA, Greg Reitan’s interest in music began at the age of ten. “I was fortunate to study with a number of great musicians,” he says, ‘[including] pianists Joni Metcalf, Dave Peck and composer/drummer Jerry Granelli. Summers were spent at the Bud Shank Jazz Workshop at Port Townsend, WA, where I studied piano with Hal Galper and arranging with John Clayton.” He won two scholarships to the Berklee School of Music, and the Kreielsheimer Scholarship at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. Read more…