For me, what is most remarkable about Arriale is that she belongs to that small group of jazz musicians who produce highly accessible music without ever losing their integrity. None of her stuff is dumbed down in any way; it is certainly not--God forbid!--smooth jazz. Arriale's artistic vision simply contains that special quality, that je ne sais quoi which makes her music attractive. I recently wrote something similar about Anat Cohen, another Mary Lou Williams festival participant. Both Anat and Lynne seem effortlessly able to incorporate folk and/or popular elements into their work. In Lynne's case this is explicit in her 2004 recording Come Together with her inclusion of the title piece, by Lennon and McCartney, and two items, "Iko, Iko" and "Red Is The Rose" by our old friend 'Traditional'. The rest of the compositions are Arriale originals and here she exhibits a gift for melodic invention, with hints at folk elements while remaining very much within the jazz medium. "I love folk music from around the world," Arriale has stated. "It is so beautiful and earthy, so simple and real. It's what I call ‘authentic music.'" "Braziliana" has a samba-ish bite to it. "Flamenco" has all the requisite Phrygian ‘Spanish tinge' but still sounds like Lynne. I don't know where she lives, but "Home" makes it sound a very warm, attractive place, and "Sea and Sand" is clearly evocative of another fondly remembered location. "Sunburst" is full of light and fireworks, while "Twilight" evokes a time of day with the accuracy usually achieved more by Indian ragas than jazz compositions, John Coltrane's "After The Rain" being a notable exception.
This is strong writing. Add to this Arriale's creamy execution, derived from her classical training, her unfailing sense of swing, and the feeling she imparts to her work by "teach[ing] my fingers how to sing," and the nature of her appeal becomes clear.
We should actually be saying ‘their appeal,' because this is group music. Indeed, it has been suggested that the trio is her instrument as much as the piano. It is certainly, according to critic Bob Blumenthal, "one of the most empathetic threesomes in jazz." Come Together, as the wordplay implies, is the trio's ninth recording and celebrates their 10th year together. It is the only format Arriale has ever appeared in. Anderson and Davis float in and out of theme statements as organic parts of the whole and step forward to occupy the solo spotlight in just the right measure.
Arriale has been favorably compared with Brad Mehldau, the trio with Keith Jarrett's. Comparisons are odious, of course, but suffice to say that Lynne Arriale is moving up and producing great work. She is helped in this by the sensitive management of Suzi Reynolds who avoids excessive hype and ensures that the albums--Yes! She has liner notes!--the website, everything is top class. None of this would mean anything unless the music were top class also. But it is--check it out.