The relationship among the musicians on Lenore Raphael’s A Beautiful Friendship
can be summed up by the title of the album. Pianist Raphael, bassist Hilliard Greene, and drummer Rudy Lawless toss around the melodies with the casual banter of people who understand each other well. They don’t try to shout down or show up each other, being more than happy to listen and respond thoughtfully to the musical statements.
Too often the pianist in a bass and drums trio seems to feel the need to cover every minute of the running time with notes. It’s the aural equivalent of decorating every inch of the walls of a house with pictures, perhaps out of fear that the wallpaper isn’t interesting enough. Of course the most successful design is one where every element is integrated harmoniously. Raphael displays an understanding of this and her playing is canny enough to allow for pauses and spaces that reveal the fine underpinning of Greene and Lawless.A Beautiful Friendship
is a lovely and accomplished album that provides the pleasure of simple and direct communication.