Gabriel Latchin is respected by many in the know and he’s regarded as one of the go-to sidemen by people like Christian McBride, Ronnie Cuber, Alex Garnett and Jean Toussaint. Now he’s stepping out of the shadows and introducing himself on a fascinating new album.
Introducing features four original tracks and seven standards in new arrangements, with fellow musicians Tom Farmer from Empirical on bass and Stacey Kent’s drummer Josh Morrison.
Opening track Carloria sets out the trio’s stall with Latchin rhapsodising over beautiful bass and drums from his own sidemen, with their own brief steps taken out of the shadows in beautiful solo work and fills. It’s a track that displays a nod in honour of the musical greats Latchin clearly knows so well, but with a youthful vigour and wit. It Had To Be You, like the other standards here, is handsomely performed. Who needs a vocalist?
The classics Lover Man and, later, If I Only Had a Brain appear here as masterful versions. Indeed, the Cole Porter Easy to Love is a stylish rendition with Latchin’s right hand picking out the melody over a pared-down backing, building to a gentle crescendo and closing flourish. The intensity of Trane Hopping and Stompin’ At The Savoy show not only Latchin but also Farmer and Morrison as a unit made of three creative and proficient professionals.
Introducing ends with Blues for Billy, a dedication to Billy Higgins, the great drummer who backed up Dexter Gordon and Herbie Hancock with such finesse. There is something of a sense of a missing front man soloing, but that’s more than covered by the melding of this trio.
This album tips a hat to the great lounge piano trios but brings a youth and subtlety that combine to make this much more than tracks over which to enjoy dinner with friends. Of course, you’re welcome to do that, but you’d be missing a refined interpretation of standards and some new classic’s of Latchin’s own creation.