By Carlo Wolff | Published April 2017
Drive and depth inform this meaty album by Noah Haidu, the assertive pianist and innovative composer leading its 11 sizzling tracks.
Inspired by a conversation with Branford Marsalis about Rainer Maria Rilke, Haidu wrote 10 of these tunes, six of which form a suite based on the German poet’s provocative dictum: “Among the closest people there remain infinite distances.”
“The Subversive” sets the tone—rarely has bristling playing been so alluring—that carries through the recording. Haidu regularly surprises, making his Cellar Live debut after two Posi-Tone recordings an unexpected delight. The title track, launched by an ascending, minor-key Haidu figure, blossoms into romantic melody, unison saxophones ushering in a ruminative Haidu solo and alto saxophonist Sharel Cassity’s fierce skirl. Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt contributes bright solos to the appropriately brisk “Momentum,” the leisurely waltz, “Hanaya,” and the witty “They Who?” That last could have come from the Horace Silver songbook.
The tunes are relatively straightforward and daring, spanning the accessible “Hanaya” and “This Great Darkness,” a furious track featuring a burning tenor saxophone solo by Jon Irabagon and drumming by John Davis that leaves one breathless. “Guardian Of Solitude,” which shifts mood and meter, could be a suite in itself. Throughout, Haidu is very lyrical and confident, steering two gifted configurations through his unique, convincing repertoire.
The album closes with a warm interpretation of “Serenity.” Irabagon’s dainty, and later propulsive, soprano saxophone and a Haidu solo give the Joe Henderson tune unusual elasticity before Davis winds it down. DB
Infinite Distances: The Subversive; Infinite Distances; Against The Sky; Hanaya; This Great Darkness; Can We Talk; Guardian Of Solitude; Momentum; They Who?; Juicy; Serenity. (69:52)
Personnel: Noah Haidu, piano; Sharel Cassity, alto saxophone; John Davis (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11), Mark Ferber (1, 2, 3, 7), drums; Peter Brendler (1, 2, 3, 7), Alejandro de la Portilla, (4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11), bass; Jon Irabagon soprano sazophone, tenor saxophone; Jeremy Pelt, trumpet, flugelhorn.
Ordering Info: cellarlive.com