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Pianist Angelica Sanchez and her trio make a show-stopping entrance with the opening track of her seventh album as a leader. “A Fungus Amungus,” penned by Mary Lou Williams and recorded by the late pianist as a solo performance in 1964, was daring in its time and remains just as compelling today. Sanchez charges headlong into Williams’ sprightly repeated phrase, bolstered by drummer Billy Hart’s unison snare work. The form opens up to embrace an extended solo by bassist Michael Formanek before the leader and drummer reassert themselves, feverishly exploring the harmonic and rhythmic dimensions of Williams’ creation.
After setting such a high-energy tone, it’s somewhat surprising that most of the rest of the 11-track program projects a decidedly more angelic mood. Cecil Taylor’s “With (Exit)” is notable for the pianist’s restraint, Hart’s percussive embellishments and Formanek’s upper-register plucking. “Preludio a un Preludio,” a composition by Mexican pianist Mario Ruiz Armengol, boasts a chamber music quality in its elegant melody, precise interpretation and hymn-like tempo. On the session’s title tune, one of three long-form works on the date and one of four tunes sketched by Sanchez, it is Hart that demands the most attention via his trademark cymbal attacks.
If any take on the album approaches what might be considered a “conventional” piano trio sound, it is the unit’s interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “The Sleeping Lady and the Giant That Watches Over Her” from his Latin American Suite. The trio’s take here is ravishingly romantic. “Generational Bonds,” meanwhile, improvised on the spot in the historic Rudy Van Gelder studio, celebrates the group’s generational diversity — about 15 years separates each of them, Sanchez being the youngest, Hart the eldest and Formanek in between. Years may separate them, but an undying thirst for creativity and harmony on the bandstand do not. — Mark Holston