Monday, September 7, 2015

Album Review: Michael Pagán- The Ottawa Sessions

I’m a slow learner.  The prospect of a new Michael Pagán album rarely makes me giddy, but I’m invariably floored by the high quality of each release by the pianist, composer and bandleader.

The Ottawa Sessions is no different.  In fact, it may be Pagán’s best effort to date.

The recording featuring Pagán, Bob Bowman and Brian Steever isn’t just another homage to the Bill Evans Trio.  In pairing of the dean of Kansas City jazz bassists with a rambunctious young drummer, Pagán has crafted  an energetic piano trio album that’s loaded with surprises. 

Not a single moment of the thirteen-minute reading of “Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise” is redundant.  Rather than resembling the deferential background murmurings of a cocktail lounge trio, the men play with brash assertiveness.  A rollicking reading of “Lullaby of the Leaves” and the playful “Kalamara Rex” are just as fun.

In hindsight, it should have been immediately apparent that The Ottawa Sessions would be an essential document of Kansas City’s mainstream jazz scene.  I’ll be ready next time.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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