REVIEW: Linda Presgrave – Inspiration

When St. Louis native Linda Presgrave moved to New York about a decade ago, she’d already built a nice career as a respected jazz artist. But it might have been the catalyst that helped the talented pianist and composer begin to find wider success, because she soon signed a recording contract and began a string of several successful albums.

Her newest, Inspiration, now out on the Metropolitan label, continues in the same vein as her previous album, 2006’s The Journey, by celebrating the women of jazz. The tracks were all written or co-written by women, and the theme even extends to her choice of sidemen — er, sidepersons — with the inclusion of drummer Alison Miller, a regular collaborator.

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She’s also enlisted Harvie S on bass, and her husband, soprano saxophonist Stan Chovnick (who also produced) shows up on several of the pieces. Tenor saxman Todd Herbert appears on two of the ten tracks, rounding out the musical contributors.

It’s a nice collection of traditional jazz, with some especially enjoyable performances. The Latin beat of Presgrave’s own “Bird of Céret” was irresistible, and among her other compositions, I especially enjoyed “Holmes for Holmes,” which features some nice tenor sax licks by Herbert.

“Don’t Explain,” a Billie Holiday song with melody by Arthur Herzog, did a very good job of displaying Presgrave’s keyboarding talents. I also enjoyed her take on Bertha Hope’s bluesy “You Know Who,” which gives drummer Miller some room to show her stuff too.

Another Presgrave composition, “Cheap Cheese,” provides a showcase for hubby Chovnick’s soprano sax, and he doesn’t disappoint as he adds his instrumental talents to the overall mix of the album he produced.

A solid collection of traditional jazz, performed by a group that is very much in synch. Recommended.

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