The Knife, Ben Winkelman trio, review by John McBeath

ben the knife

Album:  The Knife
Artist:   Ben Winkelman Trio
Release Date: 2016
Label:    Jazzhead

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Ex-Melbourne pianist Ben Winkelman, New York based since 2010, has just released his fourth trio album, this one recorded in, and inspired by New York. His first, Stomps, Pieces & Variations appeared on Jazzhead in 2005.

Winkelman’s playing has certainly evolved since he moved to the US, but he remains interested in Afro-Cuban, Brazilian, and Klezmer music – a style of Jewish traditional music often played at weddings – as well as classical music, and incorporates these influences in his trio setting.

The thirteen originals demonstrate Winkelman’s command of various jazz piano approaches: Silvia works through an uptempo post-bop piece with big luscious chords and a quick melodic line, while Remolacha (Spanish: sugar beet) employs a Latino rhythm, with suitably discursive piano treble, and allows wide scope for Sam Anning’s bass contributions, as well as for Eric Doob’s inventive percussion.

The title track uses brief semi-classical excursions in a composition that also includes a bluesy undercurrent and fast Art Tatum-like runs. The longest track, The Schlep, at over seven minutes, features clever rhythmic hesitations, giving the bass an opportunity to weave through an emphasised solo, and Doob offers a punctuated passage between Winkelman’s chords.

While I Sleep successfully paints a dark scenario with dreamy passages, yet swings in a strong way, abetted by Anning’s solidly stable bass line perfectly integrated with the piano.
This is an album of great variety, showing that much can be achieved by a piano trio with imaginative compositions, and skilled, unified players.

Review originally published by the Australian

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.