Peter Himmelman is a rock ’n’ roll anomaly: an observant Jew who has long declined to play any shows on the sabbath. But this serious commitment to his faith gives his songs heft. He’s addressed brokenness, healing, and humility in songs such as “Impermanent Things” and “Mission of My Soul.” And Himmelman has a knack for melding lyrical complexity with catchy melody.
Those who love Bill Evans or Art Blakey will relish this disc, though Stefano Bollani has his own freewheeling improv stamp. Recorded in one day, and featuring guitarist Bill Frisell, Joy pulses with live energy. Bollani pilots his piano with sophisticated trills, rolls, and riffs.
Many Beatles tribute discs fail because the vocalists or players aren’t up to the task. But with this piano-based instrumental disc, Chicago’s Anthony Molinaro shatters barriers in refreshing ways. On the opening “Blackbird,” he manages to inject the melody with stride-piano infectiousness.
Is it rock? Swing? Boogie-woogie? Louis Prima Jr. (son of the famous comic swing artist) melodiously mixes all of the above. This music moves—often with greased-lightning groove, as on the instrumental title track and “Go, Let’s Go” (which features a frenetic guitar solo). The record has its touching moments, too, as when Prima Sr. and Jr.