By Ammar Kalia | Published April 2022
Pianist Ethan Iverson has long been a master of melody. Since co-founding The Bad Plus in 2000, Iverson has developed a deceptively simplistic style: a deep-swinging, medium-tempo cascade through jaunty keys, plucking his notes with measured intent and always producing a delightfully unexpected result.
It is apt that his Blue Note debut comes with the title Every Note Is True, since there has long been the feeling behind Iverson’s searching work that unless he believes in the melodies he is playing — in the veracity of their selection — they simply won’t make it under his fingers. The resulting 10 tracks are a testament to this intuitive selection process, serving to highlight both Iverson’s mature ear and the expert comping skills of Jack DeJohnette on drums and Larry Grenadier on bass.
Opener “The More It Changes” serves as an homage to the isolation wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, featuring a virtual choir of 44 friends voice-noting lyrics on the importance of music in fostering a sense of community. From there on, this optimistic tone is carried by Iverson’s piano, enacting the very sense of togetherness the track expresses.
Highlights come on the driving groove of “She Won’t Forget Me,” showcasing DeJohnette’s capacity to stretch the bounds of a rock rhythm with his expressive cymbal work, meanwhile “For Ellen Raskin” is classic Iverson territory, interweaving lyrical harmonies with Grenadier’s tripping bass. Indeed, DeJohnette and Grenadier are stellar throughout and come to the fore on the sludgy, Fats Waller-esque swing of “Goodness Knows,” as well as on the intricate rhythms of “Merely Improbable.”
The trio presents the seamless feel of having spent years playing together and perhaps could have put this surprising confidence to use in expanding their tight compositions to reach a risk-taking free flight. Yet, that tightness in itself is no mean feat and ultimately packs immense depth into an outstanding debut.
Every Note Is True: The More It Changes; The Eternal Verities; She Won’t Forget Me; For Ellen Raskin; Blue; Goodness Knows; Had I But Known; Merely Improbable; Praise Will Travel; At The Bells Of Motley. (42:56)
Personnel: Ethan Iverson, piano; Larry Grenadier, bass; Jack DeJohnette, drums.
Ordering Info: bluenote.com