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Dig Deep by Laszlo Gardony Trio

Pianist and composer Lazslo Gardony doesn't record a whole lot - Dig Deep is only his eighth recording as a leader since his US debut The Secret was released 20 years ago. Perhaps this is due to Gardony's busy teaching and touring schedule (he is popular clinician and a professor of music at Berklee), or maybe Gardony is just a quality over quantity type of person. Either way, Dig Deep, like everything else heard from Gardony, is a wonderfully diverse and beautifully executed recording of (largely) original jazz compositions that creatively sums up a myriad of influences and life experiences. In each of the nine tunes, you'll hear echoes of Hungarian folk music and 20th Century classical music alongside broad swaths of American pop, gospel, and blues. But the central goal to this album and seemingly all of Gardony's recordings, is to convey a soulful, joyous feeling to the listener. This is what helps Dig Deep rise above the vast number of proficient, well-executed modern jazz piano trio recordings I've heard over the past year or so.

Gardony's seasoned trio of six years features bassist John Lockwood and drummer Yoron Isreal, both fellow Berklee faculty members. They excel in the context of Gardony's diverse, often surprising compositions. Isreal, a bandleader in his own right, shines whether he is providing supple, sensitive brushwork (as on 'Wide Awake' and 'New Song') or pounding out hard-funking 4/4 on 'Heavy,' a tune Gardony aptly describes as "...a protest song from deep." Lockwood's fluid bass artfully intertwines with Isreal's deft drumming on the adventurous, odd-metered 'In Transit.' Gardony's predilection for odd times also plays out quite dynamically on 'Three Minute Mile,' and 'Out On Top' - the latter a beguiling boogaloo in 5/4. The pianist's funky reworking of 'Summertime' as an acoustic jazz hip-hop tune (sans the MC) may raise a few eyebrows, but only the moldiest of figs would object. Here, all three trio members contribute hard-grooving, soulful solos. Gardony is anything but derivative, though the tastefully elegiac 'New Song' seems to conjure the work of Ahmad Jamal with its blend of dark harmonies, brilliantly conceived melody, and African-inspired bass ostinato. One surprising aspect of "Dig Deep" is the prevalence of Gospel- and Blues-derived themes - 'Sunday Afternoon' is a prime example, though each tune seems to delve into these areas quite effectively. 'Rhymes,' cited by Gardony as having an Indian influence, feels to me more like one of Abdullah Ibrahim's gently undulating, Gospel-tinged, Soweto-inspired meditations. Either way, it's a beautiful way to close out a richly rewarding CD.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Laszlo Gardony Trio
  • CD Title: Dig Deep
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2008
  • Record Label: Sunnyside Records
  • Tracks: In Transit; Wide Awake; Three Minute Mile; Summertime; Sunday Afternoon; Out on Top; New Song; Heavy; Rhymes
  • Musicians: Laszlo Gardony – piano; Yoron Isreal – drums; John Lockwood – bass
  • Rating: Four Stars
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