The evolution of a pianist represents one of the most personal and enduring relationships between artist and label. Keith Jarrett and ECM, Glenn Gould and Columbia, and Bill Evans and Riverside, are but a few examples of that fruitful relationship.
On Daybreak, his third release on the Sunnyside label, the Seattle-born, LA-based pianist and composer Greg Reitan (pronounced rye-tan) an inventive musician whom legendary producer Orrin Keepnews proclaimed to be a pianist and composer who is already quite impressive and who seems to have a great deal of rapidly developing potential continues his magnificent artistic ascent, with his longtime cohorts, bassist Jack Daro and drummer Dean Koba. The trio display their deep brand of music on eleven lively tracks featuring the leader s original songs and time-honored jazz standards by Miles Davis, Michel Legrand, Bill Evans, Wayne Shorter, Billy Strayhorn, Thelonious Monk, J.J. Johnson and others.
The title track serves as a pleasing overture previewing the glorious shape of jazz to come on the recording. Legrand s Once Upon a Summertime retains its Parisian ambiance, in contrast to Reitan s nearly classical reading of Monk s Mood, his selection Five Four, which features a swing-at-the-speed-of-sound piano solo, and his breezy waltz, The Bells Of Soledad inspired by a visit to the Nuestra Señora de la Soledad Mission in Monterey County, CA. Reitan and his group deliver Shorter s Toy Tune in hypnotic hyperdrive, continuing into Reitan s equally fleet-fingered workout, Iridescence, while Strayhorn s evergreen ballad Chelsea Bridge showcases Reitan s sensitive touch. The Great Pumpkin Waltz by Vince Guaraldi brims with the same kind of childlike joy that introduced generations of young Charlie Brown/Peanuts fans to jazz, and J.J. Johnson s mournful Lament is rendered with tender loving, brushed-stroked care by the trio. Reitan puts an inventive stride solo on the Miles Davis/Bill Evans Kind of Blue classic Blue in Green easily the CD s instrumental tour-de-force.
On all of the selections, Reitan makes the piano sing and swing with an apparent ease born of immense talent honed by years woodshedding that started in Seattle, where he was born in 1973 and took up the piano at the age of ten. After years of studying with local musicians, Reitan won scholarships to Berklee School of Music and the Kreielsheimer Scholarship at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. In 1991, he attended the University of Southern California s Thornton School of Music as a Herb Alpert Merit and Dean s Scholar, studying composition with Stephen Hartke, Frank Ticheli and Erica Muhl; piano with Milcho Leviev and Terry Trotter, and film composition with David Raksin and Christopher Young. Reitan was a finalist in the 1991 John Coltrane Competition and was awarded the Harry Warren Award for Film Scoring in 1995. He was also a finalist in the Great American Jazz Piano Competition that same year and finished second place in the 1996 Hennessy Cognac Jazz Search in New York.