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REVIEW | Andy Pratt's "Trio" by Patrick Romanowski



Andy Pratt’s “Trio,” is a starry, tender knockout.


Pratt’s latest studio album is an intimate showcase displaying a handsome mastery alongside Chicago jazz vets bassist Joe Policastro and drummer Phil Gratteau. Working together, the trio plays marvelously in the eponymous form.


“A true and straight ahead jazz venture,” says Pratt.


Pratt’s cool and cinematic styling resonates deeply as the group leans into plush arrangements that roam through The Great American Songbook, into Hollywood by way of a noir inflected atmosphere, and straight into the 60s pop cannon.


The adventurous selection of material is a fond monogram of Pratt’s poetic style. His eclectic approach casts Gershwin and Cole Porter alongside Jerry Goldsmith’s “Love Theme From Chinatown,” to wonderful effect.


As a solo performer, Pratt often delves into the territory of singer-songwriter material. He has the stark demeanor of a  troubadour, sharply rendering riddle bound phrases of haunted love and woe with precision and taste.  On “Trio,” he shows he is just as at home working within the dimensions of the arrangements, widening the instrumentation and expanding his sound. The group sparks an energetic pulse at each turn, fleshing out the unique numbers with absolute charm.


They clip into a mambo on Perez Prado’s “Patricia” conjuring up harrowing images from Fellini’s classic film, La Dolce Vita. They dip into a handful of selections from the immense technicolor songbook of the late Burt Bacharach, doing a stellar rendition of “(There’s) Always Something There To Remind Me.”


The underpinning accompaniment of Policastro and Gratteau is superb --swinging, vivid, tasteful. The dynamic interplay is affectionate and expertly hemmed. At moments each voice steps boldly into the foreground yet holds the backdrop expertly intact. A critical element to the more daring sonic feats of a trio, which they carry off effortlessly.


Recorded at Chicago’s own Electrical Audio, the local feel is luxurious. The tones are snug and ornate, like being tucked into the corner of a jazz bistro on a rainy afternoon, whiling away the hours in a dream with a small glass of port wine.


"Trio” marks Pratt’s third major studio release on Thrift Girl Records. A departure from the more independent take of his previous albums, it marks striking new territory for Pratt as he explores the fresh stylistic dimensions and hip arrangements that make his artistry so captivating and uniquely his own.


Streaming everywhere and CDs available at: BUY ALBUM


Patrick Romanowski is a writer living in Chicago. He is a regular contributor to the Evanston Roundtable. He works 9-5 at a hip record shop in Wicker Park and on Sundays he tends bar at a joint in Uptown. In his spare time he enjoys coffee, riding the CTA, and roaming around the city.

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