NYC Jazz Record Review – RE: Person I Knew
Phil Palombi RE: Person I Knew – A Tribute To Scott LaFaro – (2011) | By Ken Dryden
Published: 2011
Featured Artist: Phil Palombi

CD Title: RE: Person I Knew – A Tribute To Scott LaFaro
Year: 2011
Record Label: LeGoat Records
Style: Straight-Ahead / Classic
Musicians: Phil Palombi (bass), Don Friedman (piano), Eliot Zigmund (drums)

Bassist Phil Palombi takes special care in this tribute to the gifted bassist Scott LaFaro, who was killed in an automobile accident at age 25. LaFaro’s 1825 Abraham Prescott bass was loaned to Palombi for this recording but Palombi doesn’t simply rehash a lot of songs that LaFaro recorded during his short life; in fact, only two of the compositions here were played by LaFaro. Instead Palombi recruited two musicians he had played with individually: veteran pianist Don Friedman and drummer Eliot Zigmund, best known for his work with Bill Evans in the mid to late ‘70s.

Sizzling opener “Israel” was a favorite of Evans during the late ‘50s while Evans’ “Turn Out the Stars” was written long after LaFaro’s death, a brooding theme that quickly picks up steam and features solid solos by Friedman and Palombi. But it is LaFaro’s “Gloria’s Step” which best showcases the leader in an intricate performance backed solely by Zigmund. Evans’ title track was also composed after LaFaro’s death and the trio takes a very different approach to this timeless work, keeping it at a much slower tempo and building the tension. Palombi’s several brief improvisations showcase the brilliant sound of the restored bass in an unaccompanied setting. His jaunty “A Monk Minute” salutes the brief time LaFaro spent playing with the legendary pianist. Friedman’s bittersweet “Memories of Scottie” features Palombi’s warm arco playing in the introduction and conclusion.

Phil Palombi has crafted the rare tribute that shows how a past master has inspired him, without trying to follow in his footsteps.

Tracks: Israel, Turn Out The Stars, Improvisation: Meditation, Gloria’s Step, Chopin-esque, Improvisation: Inspiration, RE: Person I Knew, The Calling, Improvisation: 1961, A Monk Minute, Memories Of Scotty, Trepidation