CD review of Night Trip by Francesca Prihasti, reviewer John McBeath
First published by The Australian


Album: Night Trip
Artist:   Francesca Prihasti
Release 2015
Label:    Independent

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The background to this debut album from pianist Francesca Prihasti involves three countries: Indonesian born, Prihasti studied at the Sydney Conservatorium, and recorded her album in New York.

The five tracks of her originals feature US musicians drummer Ulysses Owens jnr. and Marco Panascia on double bass. Sydney guitarist Nick Vardanega makes up the quartet for this collection of mainstream music with hardbop elements. The opener Nockturne (a salute to pianist and tutor Mike Nock) establishes the style: slow to medium tempos, flowing piano trio work, with solos and guitar/piano unison passages. Prihasti’s playing swings melodically and Vardanega adds sympathetic ideas in his own solos.

Starting with a bluesy theme from Prihasti on Fender Rhodes in unison with guitar, The Bridge is well supplied with a rhythmic drive from bass and smart drum diacritics. Panascia’s bass provides strong grounding throughout and delivers a skillfully inspired solo assisted greatly by Owens’s percussive action.

The title track maintains the mode with Prihasti’s running piano, aided by soft guitar chords and hustling drums ahead of Vardanega’s quick travelling solo and a robust, multi-varied drum sequence. Here and Now begins with a bass ostinato on the piano introducing a rapidly moving solo on double bass, followed in turn by the extempore guitar, elegant high treble piano, and finally muscular drums.

This is a pleasant debut album, accomplished and tuneful, performed by a close-knit, inventive group, without pushing boundaries or aspiring to anything experimental or revolutionary.

For just over 24 years I have been a freelance writer, publishing in that time a wide variety of genres: news items, live concert reviews, travel articles, features, personality profiles, and CD and book reviews. I have written for various in-flight magazines, The Adelaide Review, The Republican, The Bulletin, The Australian, The Advertiser, The Melbourne Herald Sun and several regional newspapers. In 1994 I won a national travel-writing prize sponsored by The Australian newspaper, which led to my writing regularly for that paper. Since 2003 I have been jazz critic for The Advertiser and The Australian newspapers, on average contributing weekly to each paper. In 2005 I won a national Jazz Writing Competition sponsored by the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.