Common Practice (Live at the Village Vanguard, 2017)

Common Practice (Live at the Village Vanguard, 2017)

Brooklyn pianist Ethan Iverson, former co-leader of The Bad Plus, has shown a certain avant-garde, left-of-center aesthetic streak over the years, but his rootedness in straight-ahead jazz—as both a practitioner and an essayist—has always been clear as day. Common Practice, the title of this live date from the Village Vanguard, refers to the shared language and methodology that allows jazz musicians to get together and make the deepest music, and form the closest of bonds, with very little preparation. So when Iverson, bassist Ben Street, and drummer Eric McPherson join forces with veteran trumpeter Tom Harrell, it makes sense for the menu to be familiar standards like “I Remember You” and “I Can’t Get Started.” Players on this level, however, can make it feel like you’re hearing these songs for the first time. Harrell’s melodic lines are deeply etched and authoritative, even if his tone shows some fragility at this point in his seventies. The band locks in at all tempos, and Iverson’s two originals (“Philadelphia Creamer” in E-flat, “Jed From Teaneck” in D) have a freshness that comes from working out in less common blues keys.

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