The Dan Lamaestra Trio is a formidable group of jazz musicians made up of percussionist Leland Nokamura, bassist Blake Meister, and pianist/composer/arranger Dan Lamaestra. Their debut album, Meditations, features stirring originals as well as a few brand new takes on music for the classic jazz piano trio.
Last year the trio completed its first major project: a full musical analysis and "re-imagined" arrangement of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #2, First Movement, for jazz trio; an effort that took nearly a year to complete. Dan's goal was to take the complex orchestral piece and find "the most musically satisfying way" to "convey the feeling and scope of the music with just piano, bass, and drums."
Meditations was just released in mid-July 2017, and will be followed by HD music videos and a book of sheet music from the album.
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Dan LaMaestra's first album as a leader since "Just a Thought" in 2006, "Meditations" brings together 6 new originals, 1 jazz trio arrangement of a well-known Chopin Etude, and 3 gorgeous and soulful solo piano renditions of classic songs.
Joined by Blake Meister on Acoustic Bass, Leland Nokamura on Drums, and Jon Barnes on Trumpet/Flugelhorn, Mr. LaMaestra presents the raw and classic sound of a Steinway Grand piano in various formats, evoking the technique of pianists like Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Bob James, Dave Grusin, Hank Jones, Teddy Wilson, and Chick Corea among others.
Long a fan of classical piano music, Mr. LaMaestra tackled an innovative jazz piano trio arrangement of the first movement of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #2 for the group's YouTube channel in 2016. As a follow-up, the Trio has recorded a sparkling new arrangement of Frederic Chopin's world-famous Etude Opus 25, No. 1 (courtesy of trumpet player/arranger Jonathan Barnes), known to many as the "Aeolian Harp." The wonderful melody is transformed with fresh takes on the harmony and rhythmic structure, giving the piano room to phrase and improvise around the familiar theme.
Most notable is the brand new "Sapiens Suite." Comprised of three pieces spanning three separate tracks, "Sapiens Suite" is a musical representation of the "three-act" structure of the "Hero's Journey," considered by many writers and mythologists to be the template of all lives. The suite begins with the “Sapien,” hunting and gathering and defending; all energy and momentum; driven by hunger, fear, and the collective mystery of the unknown world and universe he sees and feels around him. Next is “Zazen,” which literally means to “sit in meditation.” This lilting and spare jazz waltz finds our hero realizing that he must learn to let go of desire and attachment, finding more beauty as he simultaneously foregoes the seeking of it. Finally: “Freiden,” or “Peace” in German. It is a new melody composed over the harmonic structure of JS Bach’s Prelude in C Minor. The tune begins in C minor but ends with a simple triad in the relative major (E Flat), just as our hero finds peace at the tail end of his life’s journey. Once again, the symbolic “rule of 3” appears.
“Piazzollando,” another Dan LaMaestra original, brings the rarely-explored style of tango for jazz piano trio. The stylistic influence of Astor Piazzolla, one of the greats of Argentine tango music, is prevalent. Note the key changes in the 16-bar piano solo section, inspired by the approach Piazzolla would use to introduce a violin, piano, or guitar solo in his music.
Finally, an arrangement of the 1935 classic "Don't Mention Love To Me" which Mr. LaMaestra transcribed from the Ginger Rogers film, In Person, where it first appeared. It is played in an elegant stride piano style, complete with an improvisation around the haunting harmonies. Nods to piano greats like Ellis Larkins, Paul Smith, Hank Jones, and Oscar Peterson can be heard throughout this performance.
Rounding out the set, are two more solo piano features. "(It's Easy) To Remember" explores the sound of the piano, from lush chording to subtle melodic flavoring, with delicate pedaling and consistent execution. This is a classic melody that remains a staple of the jazz standard world. Although "Maria" is technically the last track on the album, it's really more like a bonus track. This arrangement references the classic Maynard Ferguson arrangement but is a softer, more intimate performance.
Whether you prefer gentle piano trio music, classic solo performances, or straight ahead "hard bop" styles, we think you are guaranteed to find something on this recording that will prove a sublime listening experience!