By Bobby Reed | Published March 2017
Pianist Noah Haidu, a rising star who previously studied with Kenny Barron and David Hazeltine, recently released his third album, Infinite Distances. The leader recruited a top-shelf ensemble for the project, including Jeremy Pelt (trumpet, flugelhorn), Sharel Cassity (alto saxophone) and Jon Irabagon (soprano and tenor saxophones). The centerpiece of this compelling album is an original six-part suite, also titled Infinite Distances. The structure and sequence of the suite illustrates Haidu’s mastery of pacing, as uptempo blowing sections are interspersed with slower passages that give the listener a satisfying respite from all the impressive fireworks. The suite’s third movement, “Hanaya,” begins in a lovely ballad mode, featuring Haidu’s crystalline piano lines, followed by a mellow, engaging alto solo by Cassity, who dials the intensity up, then down, in service to the overall arrangement. The final movement, “Guardian Of Solitude,” showcases Haidu at his kinetic, dynamic best, and the horns punctuate the proceedings with an earworm of a motif. Following the suite, the latter portion of the album includes three songs that Haidu had recorded previously: the original tunes “Momentum” and “Juicy” and an interpretation of Joe Henderson’s “Serenity.” The earlier versions were recorded in a piano trio setting, but as Haidu expanded the size of his band, he wisely chose to revisit the material with his larger sonic palette.