Chicago-based pianist Paul Bedal has a crispness to his style of play. Not too ornate or flowery, expressive but direct, illustrative but pointed. This is his style on the keys and compositionally, as much as one can tell from his latest album, Mirrors, out now on BACE Records.
Bedal’s compositions are, as previously noted, direct, balanced, even-handed. “Glendale” is the kind of song where everyone gets a chance to shine, play a roll and run off in their minor chords. Trumpeter Jean Caze and alto saxophonist Caroline Davis sound great together as a horn section in this group; one doesn’t need a counterbalance if one already sounds like they’re on the same wavelength. In fact, it’s nice to hear Davis again so soon after her own release a few months ago on Sunnyside, proving that she can continue to charm, but also showing the camaraderie of the Chicago scene. Matt Carroll on drums is an interesting player, keeping pace and variety more than respectably. The same could also be said for bassist Dion Kerr who brings the anchor as expected.
“Aura” very early on establishes that neat dynamic, that everything here has its right place, compositionally and with this group playing together. Everything about it just seems right. This is even more the case with “Glendale”, which is the most ecumenical song of the bunch, and also one of the most pleasing. However, there’s something about the closing breakdown of “Six Across”– all the elements clicking together, Matt Carroll’s cymbal crashes, Caze and Davis’ sense of play, but everything just comes together here that truly culminates into something sweeping.
Everything comes together well on Mirrors, an album so well tempered that there’s just no way it could go wrong, and an achievement for Bedal as a player, composer, and leader. Mirrors is an album where everything just works.
Mirrors, the sophomore album from pianist Paul Bedal, is out now on BACE Records.
Jean Caze- Trumpet
Caroline Davis- Alto Saxophone
Paul Bedal- Piano
Dion Kerr- Upright Bass
Matt Carroll- Drums
Compositions by Paul Bedal (BMI)
Recorded by Michael Brorby
Mixed by Dan Pierson
Mastered by Paul Bedal
Artwork by Stephanie Benhaim
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.