November 2005

Paquito D’Rivera - The Jazz Chamber Trio
Chesky JD 293
Format: CD
Released: 2005

by Eric Hetherington

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Last year was Paquito D’Rivera’s 50th in the music business, and 2005 marks the 25th anniversary of his arrival in New York City. This disc acknowledges those anniversaries in a number of ways. It pays homage to both jazz and classical music, the way D’Rivera’s career has, and it celebrates Latin American music. The Jazz Chamber Trio consists of D’Rivera on clarinet and alto saxophone, Mark Summer on cello, and Alon Yavnai on piano. D’Rivera is Cuban, Summer is American, and Yavnai Israeli, making this an international group representative of D’Rivera’s adopted hometown.

The unusual instrumental composition of this trio makes for some impressive and fresh-sounding music. Just when I thought I had enough recordings of the jazz standard "Night in Tunisia," D’Rivera presents a version that swings with eloquence. Summer’s own "Kalimba" lets the cellist shine in a solo setting and suggests a bigger role for the cello in jazz. Yavnai’s "Five After" is infectious and displays all three players. Cesar Camargo Mariano’s "Crystal" is given a more intimate and successful treatment than on Yo Yo Ma’s recent CD, Obrigado Brazil [Sony Classical 089935], a disc on which D’Rivera played.

As one might expect from Chesky, the sound here is excellent. Each performer has his own place in the soundstage, and even subtle sounds, such as the fingering of the cello or the clarinet, are easily heard. The recording succeeds in placing the musicians in a physical space, which adds to the enjoyment of the music.

In recounting his childhood, D’Rivera says that he listened to swing and classical music and wasn’t cognizant of changing genres but was only aware of great music. D’Rivera’s disc reflects this: It isn’t good jazz or good chamber music, but simply great music.