Archive for January, 2009

Pianist Pacini debuts CD

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

Friday, January 5, 2001
special to The Oregonian (Read below):

“It’s easy to understand why drummer Mel Brown employs Tony Pacini as his pianist and musical director. Guitarist Dan Faehnle, formerly touring with Diana Krall, regularly used Pacini in his group, too, as did the late great bassist Leroy Vinnegar.

Like his star employers, the Portland native is a swinging, straight-ahead player with an affinity for the blues. At times recalling the late Gene Harris, Pacini’s debut CD, “I’ll Close My Eyes,” documents his place among the first rank of regional pianists operating deep within the jazz tradition.

It’s a skill he’s honed night after night on the bandstand in the company of other top instrumentalists, spinning out variations on familiar themes that include jazz standards such as “Line for Lyons” and the vintage pop of “This Could Be the Start of Something Big,” which appear on this CD.

But such ballads as “Chelsea Bridge” and several of the album’s five originals reveal another side to Pacini. His “Pastel for Two,” for instance, draws from the impressionistic Bill Evans’ tradition with its pretty, flowing figures in the right hand. His stately, restrained rendition of Michel Legrand’s “You Must Believe in Spring” also exhibits his taste for lush chords and quiet beauty. And Pacini’s “Song for Marci” may be the prettiest melody in the collection.

The beauty never interferes with the beat, though, nor does a more abstract, inventive version of “I’ll Remember April” stop the syncopated propulsion at the heart of the straight-ahead tradition. For the most part Pacini ornaments rather than deconstructs familiar melodies, lending freshness with twists in time and new melodic lines.

A well-schooled player, Pacini attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music and has worked with a variety of great musicians. Here he displays that wide range to showcase his many talents. His true colors emerge in “Blues Medley,” which contains the hard bop of Lee Morgan’s “Speedball” (complete with a couple of Gene Harris licks), in the soul-jazz of “Mr. B.T.” and in the album’s lead song, “Time to Swing,” where he rides the big, round tones of Ed Bennett’s bass and Tim Rap’s tasty drums. Bennett is featured often, but the album belongs to Pacini, whose performance demonstrates why he has become another jewel in Portland’s mainstream jazz crown.”

-BY LYNN DARROCH, The Oregonian.