Ben Rosenblum

(One Trick Dog)

A question comes to mind just seconds into the first cut on Ben Rosenblum’s debut album: Which came first, the music or the title for “Because It’s Raining?” The music is thoughtful, quiet, a little gray. Rosenblum lets it speak with minimal elaboration as Billy Hart underscores its suggestion of a misty drizzle with soft cymbal splashes and pitter-pat fills.

Rosenblum includes several covers here, but on these he leans toward the spirit of the writers. For Sonny Clark’s “Nica” he takes an aggressive approach, attacking the first verse with thick two-handed voicings, emphasizing dissonances and open intervals. Rosenblum actually unleashes even greater force on one of his originals, “Blur.” It explodes right at the top, with Hart smashing freely and furiously as the piano spells out the theme. On other tunes, though, Rosenblum plays with restraint. The ballad “And Then It’s Gone” expands on the structure’s harmonic implication, with no quick runs intruding on the picture. He has the chops to shoot off a few fireworks, too, as we hear briefly in his rendering of “Sacuer Eyes.” But that doesn’t seem to be a priority when covering sacred material—Rosenblum and Lundy caress Duke Ellington’s “Single Petal Of A Rose” with the reverence it merits.