By Bill Milkowski | Published November 2019
Recorded live at the Village Vanguard in January 2017, Common Practice showcases trumpeter Tom Harrell, whose warm, inviting tone and outstanding solos enliven this set of standards. With bassist Ben Street and drummer Eric McPherson setting the perfectly symbiotic tone on gentle ballads and all-out swingers, pianist Ethan Iverson’s playfully subversive penchant for reharmonization, baroque extrapolation and other unpredictable twists and turns subtly impacts the proceedings.
The pianist’s ethereal solo intros to gentle ballads are wholly unique in their use of drama, space and dissonance, and there’s an old-school charm to the relaxed groove on his slow blues “Philadelphia Creamer,” which finds Harrell taking his time before unleashing a scattershot burst of notes. The ensemble’s impressionistic version of “Sentimental Journey” injects a bit of humor with McPherson’s odd percussive statements and Iverson’s almost tongue-in-cheek comping and harmonic tweaking. Harrell nevertheless digs into this medium-tempo groover with bluesy abandon. Iverson’s sparse, patient comping on “Polka Dots And Moonbeams” perfectly underscores Harrell’s achingly beautiful playing here. The pianist’s renegade take on “All The Things You Are” is almost defiantly unconventional, and his herky-jerky out-of-time solo on “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” is particularly audacious. Throughout the program, Iverson simultaneously offers a heartfelt love letter to standards while spray-painting his own tag all over them.
The star here is Harrell, and the man behind the curtain is Iverson.
Common Practice: The Man I Love; Philadelphia Creamer; Wee; I Can’t Get Started; Sentimental Journey; Out Of Nowhere; Polka Dots And Moonbeams; All The Things You Are; Jed From Teaneck; I’m Getting Sentimental Over You; I Remember You. (66:41)
Personnel: Ethan Iverson, piano; Tom Harrell, trumpet; Ben Street, bass; Eric McPherson, drums.