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Metamorphosis - Jeremy Manasia Trio featuring Peter Bernstein: CD Reviews

Metamorphosis - Jeremy Manasia Trio featuring Peter Bernstein

Jeremy Manasia – Piano

Peter Bernstein – Guitar

Barak Mori – Bass

Charles Ruggiero – Drums

On his latest Rondette Jazz label release, Metamorphosis, Jeremy Manasia features his piano trio with special guest, guitarist Peter Bernstein. The recording features soulful, swinging, hard bop throughout. The piano/guitar is exquisite and somewhat reminiscent of the classic Grant Green/Sonny Clark Blue Note recordings.

Manasia possesses his own intriguing style on the piano. He performs in an understated, inventive bop somewhat reminiscent of Kenny Drew and Duke Pearson, but very much a product of his own voice. Peter Bernstein is a perfect foil for the project, with his golden tone and lyrical style shining throughout. Mori and Ruggiero provide perfect support throughout with consummate swing.

The recording begins on a fine note with the Bernstein original, “Metamorphosis,” featuring inventive solos from Bernstein and Manasia. Bernstein shines on the classic standard, “Nancy (With the Laughing Face),” performing the melody with nuance and grace. Manasia follows with a beautifully lyrical solo that highlights his deft touch on the keyboard.

The group swings with particular aplomb on “Wheatleigh Hall,” a lesser-known Dizzy Gillespie blues song from the Sonny Stitt/Sonny Rollins sessions. This track is a particular gem of the session, particularly because Ruggiero’s relentless swing and groove perfectly undergird imaginative solos by Bernstein and Manasia. Bernstein shines on the melody to Manasia’s original, “Witchery,” while Manasia follows with a spectacularly melodic solo filled with inventive piano textures. Mori not only rounds out “Witchery” with a terrific bass solo, but his walking is perfection throughout.

Metamorphosis wraps up with another Manasia original, “Sweet Child,” which begins with a dazzling solo piano introduction. Bernstein inflects his wonderful guitar solo with the timbral depth that has made him such an in-demand musician. Manasia’s touch is equally deft, as is Ruggiero’s terrific brush work. Manasia’s latest is a highly recommended hard bop outing.

—Dan Healy

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