Pianist Renee Rosnes has always had it. The kind of impeccable talent that has transcended such sexist banter as "she plays well for a female." As far back as ten years ago, this reviewer recalls hearing Rosnes with Joe Henderson and being floored by her maturity and seemingly full-flung individualism. Although she has released some notable albums in the past, ART & SOUL is arguably one of Rosnes' finest recorded moments. Much of this has to also be credited to the working group documented here, with hubby and drummer Billy Drummond and bassist Scott Colley as responsive and agile a rhythm section as any pianist could hope for.
What contributes to making this one such a success is the diversity of material selected. Not content to throw her hat in the ring of the piano trio cum standards trend, such unlikely items as Egberto Gismonti's "Sanfona", a Bartok composition, and even Lennon & McCartney's "With a Little Help From My Friends" bring out bracing and attractive performances from the trio. Singer Dianne Reeves takes a guest shot on a less then winning attempt to vocalize Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," however she's far more pleasing on the whimsical "Lazy Afternoon." Added color is also provided by percussionist Richard Bona on two cuts, with his kalimba work on Ellington's "Fleurette Africaine" especially apropos.
Again, one can't help but notice how Rosnes is so much her very own person as a pianist and jazz artist. Surely she has her influences, but they've been assimilated beautifully into the mature artist we now hear. And now's the time for those who've been asleep on Rosnes to wake up and take heed.