Noah Haidu

Infinite Distances
(Cellar Live)

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 latter cut could have come from the Horace Silver songbook.

The album closes with a warm interpretation of “Serenity.” Jon Irabagon’s dainty, and later propulsive, soprano saxophone and a Haidu solo give the Joe Henderson tune unusual elasticity.