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Album review: 'Triple Play' 

Harold Danko

"Triple Play"

SteepleChase

esm.rochester.edu/faculty/danko_harold

The new album by pianist Harold Danko is best described as a musical adventure. The title, "Triple Play," is especially appropriate because it's a collective improvisation on the part of Danko and trio-mates Jay Anderson (bass) and Jeff Hirshfield (drums). As Danko explains in his liner notes, the three have been playing together since the early 1990's and have reached the sort of musical simpatico it takes to create together. The entire album was recorded in less than four hours; most of the tracks are first takes.

Early in his career, Danko, Professor Emeritus at the Eastman School of Music, toured with Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, and Lee Konitz. After more than 30 albums as a leader, he has firmly established his own musical vision, which is fully realized here. Eight of the nine tunes are improvised contrafacts, new compositions based on standards, with playful titles like "Sky Blues." The title tune is improvised start to finish. Danko's playing ranges from lyrical and impressionistic to avant-garde. There's plenty of room for each musician to solo but the overall feeling is of a powerful unit breathing — and experimenting harmonically —together.

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