Along the Path
Like many globetrotting jazz musicians, New York-based pianist Linda Presgrave takes inspiration from her travels. For Along the Path, Presgrave penned a pair of suites that were sparked by visits to China, Japan and France. The four-part “Asian Suite” and six-part “French Suite” relay her respective musical impressions of journeys to Hong Kong, Macau and Tokyo, and to villages in the South of France. She and her husband, soprano saxophonist Stan Chovnick, co-composed the disc’s concluding track, “Universal Freedom,” a minor blues that wraps up the album on a hopeful note.
Presgrave and Chovnick state the melody on the opening title track, which provides plenty of space for the pianist’s solo. Bassist Harvie S then takes a turn in the spotlight. His digits slide up and down the fingerboard and resonantly pluck strings, before yielding to drummer/percussionist Allison Miller’s cymbal shadings and tom-and-snare rolls. Presgrave occasionally comps behind Miller, before the rest of the band returns.
“Where East Meets West (Macau)” is slightly more laid-back, though Miller insistently pushes the proceedings about midway through. Her drumming, which also makes use of gongs, remains sensitive throughout the disc, providing color as well as pulse. The same could be said of bassist S’ beyond-timekeeping approach.
On the instantly hummable “Harbor Lights (Hong Kong),” the rhythm section sets up a solo by Chovnick. He states the melody, then explores his soprano’s upper register with a series of runs before Presgrave re-enters. Both “Asakusa View (Tokyo),” containing the leader’s best performance, and “Blues for a Rainy Night” beautifully showcase her pianistic skills.
Inspired by a visit to the French town of its title, Presgrave co-wrote “Bird of Céret (The Story)” with vocalist MJ Territo, who sings it here. She also penned the lively ensemble piece “Place Picasso,” which employs a horn section comprising Chovnick, tenor player Todd Herbert and altoist Vincent Herring to capture the essence of the Catalan capital’s historic plaza. —Ross Boissoneau