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Album Review - Dan Tepfer's 'Five Pedals Deep'

By

Dan Tepfer Trio Five Pedals Deep
Courtesy of Sunnyside Records
Dan Tepfer’s Five Pedals Deep, a trio album that features bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Ted Poor, is permeated by a contemplative, pensive mood. The trio, without much surface grandeur, sustains long-arching growth, at the root of which often lies simple and repeated melodies.

The piano trio is one of the most vibrant and rich forms of the contemporary jazz ensemble, in part due to the innovations of Brad Mehldau, and stepped up recently thanks to Aaron Parks and his Invisible Cinema, which added elements of refined rock to a genre that seems increasingly to value the phrasing and character of classical music.

On Five Pedals Deep, rock and classical elements are both present. The driving rhythm and headlong chords in “Peal, Repeal,” blossom or erupt into fits of uncontainable melancholic frustration. “The Distance,” with a similar brooding sentiment, Tepfer originally composed as part of a piano concerto. With its glacial growth and subtle emotional shifts, it eschews the charms of immediacy and embraces an aesthetic that is more akin to symphonic works.

Despite the wide use of influences that often occupy the space outside of jazz, swing is still present, and the trio uses it as a tool, just as effective as any other, in conveying the dim and agitated emotional atmosphere that cloaks Five Pedals Deep. “Diverge” teases out a buoyant swing, accented with pointed and dissonant melodic gestures. The last piece on the album, a solo rendering of “Body and Soul,” uses nostalgic phrasing and elaborations of the melody, although both are immersed in fresh harmonies.

The highlight of Five Pedals Deep is an original composition called “I Was Wonderin,’” a playful piece that is untethered to any of the aforementioned genres. There are hints of swing, rock, and even classical music, but insofar as they are all there simply to service the nuanced shading of the piece, they are hardly worth mentioning.

Release Date:

October 25th, 2010 on Sunnyside Records

Personnel:

  • Dan Tepfer – Piano
  • Thomas Morgan – Bass
  • Ted Poor – Drums

Track List:

  1. All I Heard Was Nothing
  2. Le Plat Pays
  3. Interlude 1 (Unisons)
  4. Peal, Repeal
  5. Back Attya
  6. Interlude 2 (Fifths)
  7. The Distance
  8. Diverge
  9. Interlude 3 (Sevenths)
  10. I Was Wonderin’
  11. Interlude 4 (Sixths)
  12. Body and Soul
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