Good Feelings Abound in Take Five, Thanks to Yes! Trio, Bill Frisell, Petros Klampanis & Hiromi

Oct 6, 2019

And a classic throwback from the late pianist Johnny Costa.

Yes! Trio, “Muhammad’s Market”

The Yes! Trio first made its presence known earlier this decade, but its collegial roots go back more than 25 years. The group’s members — pianist Aaron Goldberg, bassist Omer Avital, drummer Ali Jackson — first crossed paths on the New York scene in the early 1990s, when they were music students.

Their careers have intersected often since, but this trio is the clearest manifestation of a collective bond, and a shared vision of how modern jazz can feel.

“Muhammad’s Market” — an Avital tune, which has its premiere here — captures that feeling well, with a stir of Latin rhythm, chiming modality and some good old-fashioned swinging. The track comes from a new album, Groove du Jour, which will be released this Friday on the jazz&people label.

Yes! Trio will celebrate its release with a run at Jazz Standard, Oct. 17-20.

Petros Klampanis, “Seeing You Behind My Eyes”

For a time, bassist and composer Petros Klampanis was a force on the ground in New York, where he earned a master’s degree. He now resides in Greece, where he was born — but the cool contemporaneity of his style heeds no national borders or regional inflection. His new album, Irrationalities, which enja’s Yellowbird imprint will release on Oct. 18, features an Estonian pianist, Kristjan Randalu, and a Polish-born drummer, Bodek Janke. Its sound is lyrical and chiming, often touched by a faint autumnal melancholy — as on a composition titled “Seeing You Behind My Eyes,” which has its video premiere here.

Petros Klampanis performs at Symphony Space on Wednesday, with a chamber ensemble that includes Camila Meza on guitar and vocals, Vasilis Costas on laouto (a Greek lute), Lefteris Kordis on piano, and a string quartet.

Bill Frisell, “On the Street Where You Live”

Harmony, the new Blue Note album by Bill Frisell, comes by its title honestly: along with his softly rippling chords on guitar, the album features vocal harmonizing by every other member of the group: Petra Haden, Luke Bergman and Hank Roberts. This approach bathes the songs in a warm, familiar light — whether they’re actually old American staples, like “Hard Times,” or Frisell originals, like “Honest Man.” Given the optimistic angle of this week’s playlist, it feels most appropriate to share the group’s openhearted take on this Lerner-and-Loewe standard from My Fair Lady.

I remember this tune striking a chord (no pun intended) in performance at the most recent Big Ears Festival. Frisell and crew will surely be playing it on their fall tour, now headed to Europe. (They will perform on Nov. 23 and 24 at Jazz Standard, as part of a Frisell residency at the club.)

Hiromi, “Blackbird”

On Spectrum, her second solo piano album, Hiromi can sometimes give the impression of a one-woman astonishment engine; such is the effect of her speed and precision at the keyboard, especially on original constructions like “Kaleidoscope.” But there’s also sensitivity and soul in her toolkit, best exemplified by a version of Paul McCartney’s enduring “Blackbird.”

Hiromi performs solo at Sony Hall in New York on Oct. 19 and 20. For more tour dates, visit her website.

Johnny Costa, “It’s Such a Good Feeling”

The headline for this edition of Take Five mentions “Good Feelings,” which is a nod to this final selection: pianist Johnny Costa playing the closing theme to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the long-running show for which he served as house pianist, musical director, and impromptu sound-effect specialist. The recording, made in 1986, appears on an album called Johnny Costa Plays Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Jazz, now being reissued for the first time on Omnivore Recordings.

Costa made the album with his trio, featuring Carl McViker on bass and Bobby Rawsthorne on drums. Their version of the tune begins with a lengthy solo piano prelude, in a ceremonial rubato. Then, a little after the 1:30 mark, Costa drops an abrupt trill, signaling a brisk new tempo and the entrance of the rhythm section. A disciple of Art Tatum, he doesn’t hold back on the pianistic bravura, transforming the song into a showstopper. A good feeling, indeed.