This is a great album to have for casual or in-depth listening.

Origin OA22217

Ben Winkelman (Piano, Rhodes Electric Piano), Gilad Hekselman (Guitar on 1, 2, 3, 8, 9), Matt Obenan (Bass), and Obed Calvaire (Drums)

Recorded May 15 & 16, 2023 at Samurai Motel, NYC

Ben Winkelman is a New York-based jazz pianist and composer whose music has been described by Downbeat as “one big, interconnected thing of beauty”.

This is his sixth album and is the first with a quartet. The diverse group of Winkelman composed songs consisting of four songs for the trio and five songs for the quartet.

Winkelman had recorded five trio albums and felt that a bit of variety from the quartet “…would be a pleasant change.”Hekselman, Obenan, and Calvaire are well-known New York-based musicians and have done some playing together. Hekelsman serves as both a soloist and an accompanist on these excellent tunes.

The trio on this album is not a regular group, although they played on Winkelman’s previous album “Balance.” According to Winkelman, “… (Obenan and Calvaire) are the sort of musicians who can basically play anything and … (make) difficult music sound easy.”

The quartet shines on “Praise”. It opens with a strutting gospel-like piano riff. Winkelman played in Black churches shortly after he came to New York thirteen years ago. It is an upbeat song that demonstrates the tight interplay of the quartet. The band stirs up some real musical fervor on this song.

Winkelman states that it is the liveliest from the album and reflects the influence of contemporary gospel music but in an odd meter.

On “Fort Tilden”, Winkelman mixes piano and Rhodes electric. This tender song starts with a pretty melody as the trio is followed by the guitarist becoming the fourth.

The quartet weaves together through the song, casting off ideas for each to react to. The bassist is particularly sensitive.

The trio shines on the tune “Wonky Waltz” and paraphrasing Winkelman, it is a playful, quirky tune that references stride piano and ragtime. It starts with a funky riff that recounts older music with an upbeat jaunty phrasing. It features bassist Penman.

The beauty of this group is how well they fit together. What began as a progressive, buoyant trio has added the guitarist who is the harmonic and emotional equal of the core trio members.

Winkelman and his fellow travelers traverse a free-flowing musical landscape. Changing tempos on a dime, constructing a mood landscape as they play. As the tune changes so does the emphasis of the individual instruments.

The drums may start a subtle shuffle in the background that breaks through to the forefront and the song goes out. This is a great album to have for casual or in-depth listening.