The pianist to the stars leads his trio in a set of outstandingly elegant improvisations
When he’s not busy being a composer, arranger, double Grammy-winner and accompanist to the stars, New Zealand pianist Alan Broadbent leads his trio, along with bassist Harvie S and drummer Billy Mintz. Their impromptu style, avoiding written arrangements and even rehearsals, succeeds because they are like-minded and share the same unwritten musical maxims. Broadbent has long been admired for the clarity of his technique, and here it amounts to a kind of joyful precision, always melodic but sometimes tricky, too.
All three are constantly alert, catching phrases, picking up clues. There are some brilliant moments, often so fleeting that they’re easy to miss. For instance, towards the end of With the Wind and the Rain in Your Hair, Broadbent takes off into an improvised coda. The bass and drums fall in behind and follow it gently to a close. It only takes a few seconds, but it’s so elegantly done that I had to go back and listen to it again. There are nine tracks here, all packed with similar moments. For me, the three outstanding pieces are Hank Mobley’s This I Dig of You, Sonny Rollins’s Airegin and a lovely version of the ballad Stairway to the Stars.
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