NYC-based pianist and composer Leslie Pintchik got a late start in music; prior to becoming a jazz musician, she taught English literature (as a teaching assistant) at Columbia University. Early in her music career, she surfaced on the Manhattan scene in a trio with legendary bassist Red Mitchell at Bradley’s.
Pintchik’s debut CD, So Glad To Be Here, was released in June 2004, followed by Quartets in 2007, both on the Ambient record label. Along with her new CD, We’re Here To Listen, Pintchik also just released a new DVD, Leslie Pintchik Quartet Live In Concert, both on the Pintch Hard record label.
1. Keith Jarrett at the Blue Note The Complete Recordings (Disk #4)
I chose this CD particularly for the first track, “How Deep Is The Ocean.” This is a great medium-slow tempo reading of a classic tune. Jarrett is a musician with tremendous depth and integrity, and he’s also a superbly accomplished pianist. However, on this particular track, there is a raw, unvarnished, almost naked quality to his solo, which lends it special power. His playing on “How Deep” has no virtuosic runs or power-technique: he’s pulling something up from a deep, unedited place, and it never fails to move me.
2. Festa Rosa Passos
This is an early recording (1993) by this wonderful Brazilian singer. Passos’ singing is enormously sophisticated rhythmically, yet also subtle and understated. A supremely musical singer and musician, her voice on this early CD is fresh, full of sunlight, and almost heartbreakingly sweet.
3. Cantando Histórias Ivan Lins
This is a relatively recent (2004) collection of many of Lins’ greatest songs, recorded at a live concert in Rio. These tunes were always great, but there is something especially compelling about this performance (at least for me) compared with earlier versions: perhaps an extra depth, or reticence. Lins is performing with a top-notch band, and he plays and sings with great warmth, ease, and tremendous soulfulness.
4. Beethoven The Late Sonatas Richard Goode
A superb pairing of composer and pianist. A particular favorite is Sonata #30 in E-Major, Opus 109. Goode brings out all the depth and beauty in Beethoven, and then some (if that’s possible!).
5. Susana Baca Susana Baca
This CD introduced me to Peruvian rhythms, particularly the landó (“Zamba Malató” and “Caras Lindas”). I love the spare textures; the dry quality of the percussion and guitar stands in stark contrast with the lushness of her voice. The rhythms in general are very beautiful and mysterious.
6. Alegría Wayne Shorter
Terrific arrangements and orchestrations by Shorter. This CD is both daring and inviting, and Shorter is his typical first-rate self: mysterious, beautiful, and expressive. A personal favorite is the third track (“Vendiendo Alegría”), an elaborate composition with three very different sections that still manage to cohere beautifully. Great playing also by Danilo Perez and Brad Mehldau.
7. Speak Like A Child Herbie Hancock
A great rhythm section, with Hancock, Mickey Roker and Ron Carter. The arrangements are strong, but the real draw is Hancock’s playing effortless swing, wonderful use of space, and a beautifully relaxed “hang” on the title track. On “Toys,” the five beat held chord at the very beginning of Hancock’s solo is mesmerizing, for both its drama and its stillness.
8. My Song Keith Jarrett
A rare early (1977) Keith Jarrett album that features all original compositions, performed by his Scandinavian band: Jarrett, Jan Garbarek, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen. The music is very strong melodically, and also daring in its use of rubato against steady time (see track 3, “Tabarka”). This was a very cohesive band, which makes me regret they didn’t record more. The music still sounds modern and very fresh 33 years later.
9. Vespertine Björk
This is a strikingly original recording with very unusual colors, incorporating electronics with harp, choir, strings and other sounds. Björk is cutting-edge while still retaining a warmth and humanity, a rare feat. “A Hidden Place” opens up the CD with a very strong vibe; it feels impossible not to be drawn in immediately.
10. Live At The Village Vanguard Bruce Barth
Full disclosure: Bruce Barth is my friend, but what’s wrong with admiring the artistry of a good friend? Amongst many gifts as both composer and pianist, Barth’s soulful, ferocious swing feeling stands out.