Alex Clements,
Waiting for You
(independent, 2007)

Pianist Alex Clements is accompanied on Waiting for You by Alain Bradette (saxes), Chris Queenan (bass) and Danny Gottlieb (drums). Gottlieb's is the only name likely to be familiar, but don't let that stop you. None of these musicians would have been out of place on many of your favorite jazz CDs.

Clements wrote eight of the 10 tunes on this album and proves himself an exceptional composer. His melodies are memorable, especially the ballads, several of which are so hummable they seem to demand lyrics.

The release starts with "Blues for GB," a lively, optimistic original that forecasts confident playing in a solid mainstream style. Fine lively stuff, but a misleading predictor of the many attractive and more subtle moods to follow.

The standard piano trio is featured on two tracks: the gently swaying bossa nova "Nuits de Paris" and the swinging waltz-tempo "Emily's Song." Although Clements has plenty of technique, his playing is under control, smooth and precise. The delicate beauty of his ballad solos are album highlights.

Saxophonist Bradette has most of the lead melody lines on the quartet tracks, usually on soprano or tenor. All four musicians have solo space, but piano and sax take the lion's share. Bradette's tone and phrasing often remind me of Jan Gabarek, probably partly because Clements' originals frequently remind me of the tunes Keith Jarrett wrote many years ago for the quartet he had with Gabarek. Bradette plays a particularly soulful alto on the title tune and matches the feeling with a soprano on the exquisite and peaceful "Time to Heal." Queenan and Gottlieb blend-in perfectly, providing sympathetic support and the occasional tasteful solo.

It's a pleasure to come across an unfamiliar artist who can grab your attention in an era when it seems there's an endless supply of good musicians. Jazz fans can buy this one with confidence that they'll hear something more than just good. The CD is a standout, full of wonderful playing and music. This is totally and warmly recommended.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Ron Bierman

2 May 2009

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