Pianist Lynne Arriale Creates More Trio Magic; Tunes Inspired by Health Worker Heroics (album review)

Lynne Arriale Trio, “The Lights Are Always On” (Challenge)

Can instrumental music that’s uniformly relaxed and occasionally tinged with melancholy still create a sense of urgency and express joy?

Those are the seemingly contradictory feelings evoked by the affecting melodies, accomplished individual performances, and seamless ensemble work showcased on The Lights Are Always On.

The album is pianist Lynne Arriale’s 16th release as a leader and second leading a trio with drummer E.J. Strickland and Dutch bassist Jasper Somsen.

The collection of 10 Arriale originals was inspired by the healthcare workers who have persevered on the front lines of the COVID pandemic, even while risking infection—not unlike the 9/11 heroes, as she explains in the CD package’s lavish, informative 16-page booklet. The title track, specifically honoring Tacoma surgeon Dr. Prakash Gada, offers a chiming, circling melody, built on a stair-stepping bass line and a pretty, unhurried piano improvisation, the first of many on the album.

(Arriale is on the jazz studies faculty at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville).

Read my full review for JazzTimes magazine here.

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