|Bruno Råberg chooses sidemen well.|
He has made good as both teacher and performer, and his nearly all-original program on "Tailwind" (Red Piano Records) indicates significant compositional skills and a way of giving simpatico bandmates good material to cultivate and help him harvest.
Råberg's compositions are well-designed for himself and his two sidemen, pianist Bruce Barth and drummer Adam Cruz. He has a gift for melody, which is most prominent in "A Closer Look"; as a song, it could be a late addition to the Great American Songbook, just awaiting lyrics.
The bassist's gift for creating tunes also comes up in his solos, as in the slow waltz titled "Paris Windows." His inviting ruminations nicely set up a delicate outing by Barth, and the drummer's subsequent solo has like-minded riff support from piano and bass.
He deserves kudos for an in-tune statement of the theme using the bow on "Here's That Rainy Day," the disc's one borrowed piece. Too many jazz bassists' arco excursions expose some difficulty staying on pitch. The leader also takes a good plucked solo, and there's enough inspiration left over from that side journey to inspire an original sequel, "Rainy Day Farewell."
The title piece has an episodic structure, but avoids giving the impression of wandering. It has the feeling, as the title suggests, of being propelled forward by new encounters along the way. Not to minimize the value of Cruz, but Barth is essential to realization of Råberg's book throughout. "Lone Tree Hill" is a prime example: The piano is alone at first, setting the solitary mood; there's good extrapolation of the leader's ideas in Barth's solo before the trio settles back into the theme.
"Song for Dolphy" takes a germinating idea from an Eric Dolphy recording to construct an easygoing piece, introduced by unaccompanied bass, with some heating up in the middle. The fills by Cruz near the end against a piano vamp are exciting, and there's lots of prominent bass over the piece's course.
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