Mulligan, Baritone Bard; Threadgill, Alto Innovator


“Pacific Standard Time”

Concord Jazz

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You can feel a number of influences in the work of pianist Alan Broadbent. His play suggests Art Tatum’s detailed sense of embellishment, Bud Powell’s energetic attack and the deep sensitivity of Bill Evans. But he does this mostly in spirit, without resorting to copy-cat phrasing or out-and-out quotations. And he does it in a way that seems perfectly natural, perfectly from his own personality.

That personality, as defined on this trio date that includes bassist Putter Smith and Broadbent’s fellow-New Zealand native Frank Gibson Jr. on drums, is a gentlemanly one that favors long, dancing phrases and a tasteful sense of decoration. Broadbent’s improvisations center on a piece’s melody, using it as a touchstone while the pianist develops complementary ideas and moods. Even at his most intense--and Broadbent often fires up lightning-speed, swirling statements--he never seems to lose control.

Broadbent also has a knack for finding just the right pace, sometimes with ironic overtones, for each and every standard on the program. “Beautiful Love” dances stylishly. “I’ve Never Been in Love Before” struts with confidence. “I Should Care” swings in carefree fashion. Smith and Gibson provide no fireworks, instead laying down the kind of predictable, expansive support that lets the trio’s leader keep the spotlight. Though some may find a surfeit of cool on “Pacific Standard Time,” the disc is Broadbent’s best album as a leader and one of the most dependable releases from a pianist this year.

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four (excellent).