Leslie Pintchik Quartet – Live in Concert

Pianist and composer Leslie Pintchik takes to the intimate Shandalee Music Festival’s New York City Showcase series and brings her bandmates along for a toe-tapping set that lets each member shine.

The concert was recorded in March of 2009 and features seven pieces, some of which are Pintchik originals and some of which are standards. All are magnificent visions of musical joy. The CD/DVD set captures the mood and the fascinating interplay between the players, allowing us precious insight into the process of playing through a live gig in a small room.

Pintchik is joined by Scott Hardy (bass), Mark Dodge (drums), and Satoshi Takeishi (percussion). The band is as cohesive a unit as I’ve seen and heard in a long time and they play with visible shades of dedication and concentration. Hardy provides burly lines of bass with his eyes closed and head nodding, while Pintchik melts into the ivories.

The session begins with “Scamba,” a Hardy-penned piece that serves as the perfect introduction. Takeishi emerges first with what looks like an egg shaker and sets the measure. The rest of the band emerges, one at a time, and puts the tune together.

Pintchik introduces a couple of her own pieces next, starting with “Over Easy.” The quartet follows with the thoughtful melody of “Completely,” a Pintchik original that showcases the gentler side of this very vibrant grouping.

Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind,” which also appears on Pintchik’s new album, comes with a dramatic and intelligent arrangement that brings freshness to the original and reconfigures it without interrupting the original flavor.

With tinges of Brazilian music, “Too Close for Comfort” is the show’s standout track. This piece, taken from Ella Fitzgerald’s blistering version, volleys between cohesive samba and the more improvisational flair of partido alto passages. The number features a room-owning percussion showdown that lets Takeishi and Dodge blast away much to the delight of the audience.

The Manhattan-based Pintchik may have been a “late starter” in the world of jazz, but her passion and intelligence as a pianist and composer is unquestionable with this CD/DVD release. With her band in full support, she possesses confident stage presence. As committed as she is to playing the hell out of the keys, she’s even more committed to transferring her musical spirit to the attentive, toe-tapping audience.

Article originally published as Music CD/DVD Review: Leslie Pintchik Quartet – Live in Concert at Blogcritics.org

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