"Wakefulness" is one of those rare recordings that leaps out of the speakers and grabs you by the ear. Not that this is an in-your-face recording of bombastic piano, but Trompeter - former keyboardist for Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine does bedazzle with his artistry on the keys. A practicing Buddhist, the placidity and balance of Trompeter's inner being shines forth through his adept and sparkling fingerwork.
A wide ranging and quite satisfying mixture of tunes range from piano trio settings with bassist Eric Hochberg and drummer Mike Raynor to piano and synthesizer led settings featuring horns (including Orbert Davis) and guitar (Fareed Haque). Compelling covers of tunes like John Coltrane's "26-2," Irving Berlin's "How Deep is the Ocean," Harold Arlen's "It's Only a Paper Moon" and Cole Porter's "Every Time We Say Goodbye" seamlessly transition into originals, with the common denominators being the intelligent and graceful piano playing, the mature and interesting arrangements and the empathetic support of the players.
Two highlights include the percussion-driven, Danilo Perez-inspired "Quatrosh" - which makes one hope Trompeter will mine similar veins in the future, and the incredibly beautiful "The First Tee," which evokes the dew-laden grass, birdcalls and early morning skies of the golf enthusiast with aplomb. "Dharma John," meanwhile ends the album with the calm of the Buddhist state of wakefulness and the ascending spirit of Andy Snitzer's soprano sax. Piano jazz fans take note: this is a pianist ready to spring forward into the spotlight with this stellar release.
Jim Trompeter will be appearing the Green Mill Friday and Saturday, Oct. 24-25.