There is certainly no shortage of talent or inspiration on Bruce Barth's
latest offering for MaxJazz, "Live At The Village Vanguard."
Barth's piano trio features the up and coming New York bassist Ugonna Okegwo and the fearsom Al Foster on drums.
Recorded last fall at New York's most famous of jazz venues, this CD gives us ample evidence of a skillful and hard-swinging ensemble. Barth busily improvises his way around changes at length before stating a melody statement. In fact, he uses melody sparingly and thoroughly recasts harmonies into his unique mold. Highlighting the performance on the CD is an intimidating romp through "In the Still Of The Night" as well as the soulful "Prospect Avenue Blues", a Barth original.
For these live sets, the trio has chosen a nice mix of originals and standards. Two interesting and infrequently recorded Monk originals are included, a funky interpretation of "Let's Call This" and "San Francisco Holiday", as well as a superb solo rendition of Monk's quirky "Evidence". Barth also treats us to another moving solo performance on Harold Arlen's soulful standard "When The Sun Comes Out."
"Live At The Village Vanguard" is yet another outstanding addition to the MaxJazz catalog. Along with their superb vocal series, the piano series is a strong indication that this small label, based in St. Louis, Missouri, is on the way to being one of the major contenders in the jazz market.