Thursday, May 14, 2015

Billy Lester, Unabridged

Last July 15, 2013 I reviewed pianist Billy Lester's solo album Storytime on these pages and wondered to myself how I could have missed this pianist until then. He is back with another good solo effort, Unabridged (Jujikaan 002). I find myself thinking the same thing, only maybe even more so.

The Sal Mosca-Lennie Tristano influenced artist gives us an ever more freewheeling set on this one. These are improvisations that show the swinging, open style of Lester at his best, but with some very spontaneous freedom noticeably present. It's as if he lets himself go further than ever into where his musical mind and fingers will him to go.

There is nothing inherently surprising at the bottom of it all, since Lennie was a free piano pioneer way back when. But then Lester gives us his own version of the open style, so it also is no mere repetition as much as it is a new moment in Billy Lester's approach.

What makes it all especially enjoyable is that the playing remains squarely Lestorian, extending it into heretofore uncharted waters but still very much in continuity with his swing and percussive touch.

I found the listen exhilarating.

If a swinging outness sounds like something you'd enjoy, do not hesitate. This is a testament to Lester's creative artistry and a real pleasure to hear.

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