The opener, "Where’s the Sun," demonstrates Piatigorsky’s impeccable use of classical grammar. The trio sweeps through with gentle, arced statements that push into hurried runs. Remember Barry Manilow’s Could It Be Magic that was inspired by Chopin's Prelude In C Minor? Then you get the idea behind "Where’s the Sun." Piatigorsky plays chunky chords on Fender Rhodes keyboard for "Montevideo." The trio just throws down this tune and lets it drift into a funky haze. Piatigorsky also plays Rhodes on the playful title tune and "SoHa," a song for a sunny Sunday stroll. Ushered in by Hoenig on tom-toms and a poignant solo by Glawischnig, Piatigorsky’s "Nachlaot" has a touch of noir that suddenly springs forth hope and illumination. "Spanky’s Dilemma" - do I hear references to Wayne Shorter’s "Witch Hunt?" - is a slick tune that spreads wide with Glawischnig and Hoenig kicking behind it in a most relaxed way.
Misha finds simplicity within complex ideas and then spins off of them with cool. His playing and the mood of Uncommon Circumstance brings to mind pianists James Hurt’s 1999 release Dark Grooves and Mystical Rhythms (coincidentally, Hoenig is the drummer on this date) and Herbie Hancock's Fat Albert Rotunda. Both of these releases are deceptively modern and were steps along the way to today’s hybrids of jazz with hip-hop, rap and trance music.
Except for the standard "I Fall In Love Too Easily" and "Fishing Boats" written by his father, Gregory Piatigorsky, the other nine compositions were written by Misha Piatigorsky. And each one stacks up against each other well without gaps. His time as vocalist Mark Murphy’s pianist and musical director feels as though it's made him sensitive to the placement of tunes in a set; make it satisfying and make it make sense to the ear and gut. By the way, Piatigorsky will be appearing with Mark Murphy March 13-18 at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York. His record release party for Uncommon Circumstance is scheduled for April 11 at the Iridium Jazz Club, also in New York.