By Suzanne Lorge | Published January 2019
The graceful, fleeting original “Even The Sun Sets”—the penultimate track on Anne Sajdera’s latest album, New Year—gives listeners a hint of the jazz pianist’s classical orientation. Decades of training are apparent in her well-practiced touch, her smooth legato, her confident attack on the keys. What Sajdera builds with this masterful technique, though, is sturdy post-bop constructs.
The appeal of Sajdera’s new release doesn’t lie in technique, but in the clarity of her intention. The bandleader is in command on “Bright Lights”—where each soloist cycles briskly through the head, against a measured rhythm section—and the title cut, a swinging jazz waltz with duet sections for flugelhorn (Miroslav Hloucal) and alto saxophone (Jan Feco).
Sajdera conceived of the project, which explores cross-cultural themes, during a trip to the Czech Republic, the home of her forebears, where she first met Hloucal and Feco in 2014. Feco’s modern jazz interpretation of the traditional Roma folk song “It Depends On That” is in keeping with Herbie Hancock’s “call for international dialogue through jazz,” Sajdera writes in the liner notes.
Beyond the bandleader’s five originals, Hloucal contributes three to the recording, including the opener, featuring saxophone heavyweight Bob Mintzer. “Pictures” contains all the elements that can ignite borderless bonhomie in its listeners: an irresistible groove, resounding solos and a straightahead melody that nods to jazz masters. An apropos lead-in to this winning sophomore release.
New Year: Pictures; New Year; Treasure; Butterfly Effect; Changeling; Bright Lights; It Depends On That; Even The Sun Sets; Azul. (46:57)
Personnel: Anne Sajdera, piano; Miroslav Hloucal, trumpet, flugelhorn; Jan Feco, alto saxophone; Bob Mintzer, tenor saxophone (1); Dan Feiszli, bass; (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9); Jason Lewis, drums (1, 4, 5, 7, 9); Alan Hall, drums (2); Deszon Claiborne, drums (3, 6); Erik Jekabson, trumpet, flugelhorn (3, 6); Lyle Link, alto saxophone (6); Rita Thies, flute (3); Joyce Lee, violin, cello (3), Gary Brown, bass (3, 6).