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Warm and engaging, Woven Dreams is pianist Lara Driscoll’s charismatic debut. Here Driscoll demonstrates a mix of sophistication and subtle yet definite virtuosity, as well as superlative writing skills. Her lyrical originals comprise most of this intimate album, which, along with carefully chosen standards, form a contextually cohesive work.
Driscoll interprets Billy Strayhorn’s “Isfahan” unaccompanied by her trio mates, bassist Paul Rushka and drummer Dave Laing. Her left hand softly percusses resonant chords while her right deconstructs the mystical melody. With elegant pianism, Driscoll renders the essence of this classic in a singular style, making the piece her own while retaining Strayhorn’s indelible mark. Equally poetic are the exchanges between Driscoll and her sidemen on her own captivating “ECMT Blues.” She embellishes the main theme with brilliant spontaneity and a tender touch. Rushka improvises with lithe eloquence while Laing contributes a passionate and restless solo.
On display throughout, the trio’s internal synergy is one of the delights of the recording. For instance, Rushka and Driscoll open the bittersweet “Siblings” with a stimulating dialogue. The collective performance that follows is fluid and graceful and belies the mercurial intelligence of the individual expressions that emerge from it
Another highlight is the hypnotic title track, a soulful and indigo-hued lullaby. Driscoll constructs the main motif with dense chords and peppers it with dulcet chiming notes. Laing’s rustling brushes and Rushka’s sparse, reverberating thumps enhance the mellow, nocturnesque ambience.
On her superb freshman effort, Driscoll showcases her immense talents and particularly her unique artistic voice, which is rare in a musician so early in her career. Driscoll’s gentle approach to the keys is mesmerizing, her compositions fascinating. And her seamless camaraderie with the other trio members adds another enjoyable layer to the release. — Hrayr Attarian