Sunday, January 28, 2018

The Billy Lester Trio Italy 2016

The Billy Lester Trio
Italy 2016
Ultra Sound Records

Yonkers, NY native Billy Lester recorded this latest recording (not sure if this is his seventh or eighth over 20 years) in Italy after meeting and touring with bassist Marcello Testa and drummer Nicola Stranieri starting in 2014. Lester grew up listening to the likes of Bud Powell, Art Tatum, Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge while showing an affinity for piano as a young child. He was mentored by Sal Mosca and studied with Lennie Tristano, and he cites these two as his biggest influences. While under Mosca's tutelage, he studied and absorbed aspects of Lester Young's style.

One can certainly hear Tristano's influence in how Lester plays and develops his solos and the arhythmic sense of the rhythm section at times on this program of six originals, but his technique and drive in his playing also evokes Bud Powell's at times. This is a fascinating set of terrific piano trio music. "To Julia," a contrafact of the standard "Body and Soul," on which bassist Testa also solos while Stranieri keeps a fluid pulse going on the lengthiest of the performances here. The driving "Consolidation" is another strong effort by Lester and his trio, but all the music here is of a consistently high level on a superlative CD.

I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is Billy Lester performing.

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