Roberta Piket is now on a don’t-touch-me-pinnacle and the release of this West Coast Trio, album has everything to do with it. The prodigiously-gifted pianist is also joined here by guitarist Larry Koonse on two songs and her partner and (otherwise) ubiquitous drummer, the mighty Billy Mintz on Djavan’s exquisite piece, “Flor de Lis”. However, the electrifying momentum for the West Coast Trio recording has been sustained with intoxicating energy by Darek Oleszkiewicz, who’s justifiably all the rage in music circles these days and by Joe La Barbera the drum-playing member of the legendary “La Barbera” Music dynasty.
Those of us familiar with Miss Piket’s work from elsewhere vividly recall her virtuosity and immaculate taste in melody as well as her harmonic and rhythmic genius, but nothing can prepare one for the utter beauty of her playing on this disc. Clearly Miss Piket is possessed of a virtuoso two-handed technique that allows her to make melodies rise in parabolic arcs that vary from fluid and gentle to wild and spine-tingling. And we hear both kinds in songs such as “Humpty Dumpty” and “Conception” (the latter kind) and “Falling in Love with Love” and “Windmills of Your Mind” (the former kind).
However, more than anything the music on this recording is affirmation that Miss Piket ticks all the Romantic virtuoso boxes: sweeping tunes, kaleidoscopic orchestral colours, moments of lyrical reflection, passages of demanding chordal piano (writing and) playing. And it’s capped off with a soaring, epic – and dancing – finale that ends in triumphant swirling peals, performed to perfection by the pianist together with this extraordinary trio. And certainly one cannot emphasize this neo-Romanticism that brings out the contrasts in tone and colour turning each of these pieces into a seductively habitable sound world not only for Miss Piket but for all lovers of this music.
For it is like the gathering – and welcome – storm that emphasizes intense passion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing ever-growing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension and awe – especially in confronting the sublimity and beauty of human nature. It elevates the folk art of Jazz to its rightful nobility stressing its spontaneity as a desirable characteristic (as in the musical impromptu). So that when assigning the justifiably high value to the achievements of “heroic” individualists and artists, it correctly locates Miss Piket, whose skill and great imagination is sublime, in the upper tier of artistry because her music heard here (and elsewhere) has indeed raised the very quality of the society in which we live.
Track list – 1: Mentor; 2: Falling in Love with Love; 3: A Bridge to Nowhere; 4: Humpty Dumpty; 5: Flor de Lis; 6: Yemenja; 7: My Buddy; 8: Conception; 9: Windmills of Your Mind
Personnel – Roberta Piket: piano; Darek Oleszkiewicz: bass; Joe La Barbera: drums; Larry Koonse: guitar (3, 8); Billy Mintz: drums (5)
Released – 2018
Label – 13th Note
Runtime – 54:49