Just five tracks make up the latest disc from pianist Edward Simon, but they’re substantial and even uplifting epics that ensure that no listener will feel short-changed. Quite the opposite, actually.
Opening the disc, which features Simon, the great 44-year-old Venezuela-born pianist, with the unbeatable team of bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade, is Simon’s Poesia, a lyrical, swinging thriller.
Next, the trio covers Antonio Carlos Jobim’s Chovendo Na Roseira – was that the great Brazilian composer’s only waltz? — on Simon’s terms. He’s reconfigured the first half of the tune as a dramatic 4/4 tune over a bass ostinato before reverting back to Jobim’s design. The performance is flowing and gorgeous, with prolonged playing by Simon over the bass-ostinato foundation, and it concludes with an extended vamp that’s soulful and even Jarrett-like.
Giant Steps has also been reimagined — in the trio’s hands, its an loose, medium-tempo swinger, the emphasis having shifted from Coltrane’s original brisk change-making to more upbeat and expansive collective playing.
Simon’s Pathless Path, which stretches beyond 15 minutes, is a mesmerizing example of masters making an epic out of very little composed material — or none at all — it wouldn’t surprise me if the track was a collective improvisation.