Alberto Pibiri Honors the Jazz Legacy

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JAZZ LEGACY / PIBIRI: For Oscar. Walkin’. My Sunshine. New Bossa. A Blues. Kiss Kiss. PIBIRI-JORDAN: Be Free .2 PIBIRI: For Sure.2,3 PIBIRI-WAKS: Oh Yeah!1,2 PIBIRI: It’s Me / Alberto Pibiri, pno; Paul Gill, bs; Paul Wells, dm; Adrian Cunningham, t-sax/cl; 1David Stryker, gtr; 2Sheila Jordan, 3Jay Clayton, 1Miriam Waks, voc / Alberto Pibiri Music APM 10012

Here’s a wonderful new CD by an up-and-coming jazz pianist who idolizes Oscar Peterson but has his own style as well. Even as a classical piano student in Italy, he loved Peterson so much that he’d often play his music in concerts. According to the publicity sheet, “He met Sheila Jordan at one of his workshops in France and she was so impressed with Pibiri’s musical talents that she not only became his main mentor but sponsored his artist visa so he could move and perform in the United States.”

Indeed, the opening track on this disc is titled For Oscar, but to my ears it sounds more like a modified boogie-blues, which was not Peterson’s normal style; it almost channels the New Orleans piano sound of Alan Toussaint, but it’s creative and infectious, and his rhythm section swings beautifully behind him. Walkin’, a more sedate tune, sounds like a swing number from the 1940s and features the low chalumeau-register playing of clarinetist Adrian Cunningham, cool and liquid. My Sunshine is a slow ballad, starting out in 3/4 but moves into a standard 4 for the “development” section, which features bassist Paul Gill in a wonderful double-time solo. Pibiri’s own solo swings with charm and invention, sounding more like Peterson in a relaxed mood than even the opening track before moving back to 3 for the final chorus.

New Bossa is another Peterson-influenced performance, here channeling his inner Jobim; Cunningham, switching to tenor sax, channels his inner Stan Getz. This one also features a really nice drum solo by Paul Wells. And Pibiri really pulls out his Peterson chops on A Blues, an uptempo romp that he plays superbly. Kiss Kiss is an uptempo swinger, again featuring Cunningham on clarinet.

The great Sheila Jordan sings on Be Free; she still has the sweet, youthful sound from her youth and her communicative abilities remain intact, but here she has an unsteady wobble. Yet her scat vocal with Jay Clayton on For Sure is superb with no wobble, one of the highlights of the album, as is Miriam Waks’ peppier, more outgoing vocal on Oh Yeah! On the latter, Cunningham switches from his Stan Getz style to a more aggressive R&B style, with good effect and fine imagination. The disc ends with the relaxed ballad It’s Me, played with just the right touch and forward nudging of the beat by Pibiri.

Overall, a nice CD. Great summertime jazz listening!

—© 2018 Lynn René Bayley

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