Thomas Linger – Out in It (2022)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 56:45 minutes | 373 MB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Cellar Live
There is something to be said for moving the music forward while remaining deeply rooted in and respectful of the tradition. North Carolina-born jazz pianist Thomas Linger threads that needle masterfully on his debut album Out In It. Joined by an all-star cast of musicians (Peter Bernstein on guitar, Yasushi Nakamura on bass, and Joe Farnsworth on drums), Linger’s thoughtful and inviting musicianship leaves the listener looking forward to where he’ll take the music next.”Can’t Say It,” one of eight original compositions on the album, sets the scene for the rest of the album. Calling to mind the classic Blue Note records of the 1960s, Linger’s minor blues-adjacent melody leads into a brilliant solo from Bernstein before a hard-driving piano solo that is equal parts block chords and bebop lines.
The harmonic motion on “Night Ride” invokes Coltrane, while the guitar melody and piano countermelody have an almost contrapuntal quality. Energetic solos from both Linger and Bernstein push the song forward before Bernstein and Farnsworth trade rhythmic ideas.
Speaking of Coltrane, Linger’s playing and composition on “Mercurial Behemoth” seem to draw heavily from piano giant McCoy Tyner, while venturing into new territories. The only trio track on the album, the group really locks in here, with a deep and intuitive connection throughout the rhythm section. Nakamura’s bluesy solo is a particular highlight, as well as the energetic and explorative finale.
Linger’s “Incantation” starts off with a hymn-like interlude before transitioning into a waltz. Bernstein’s guitar solo feels like a lament accentuated by the musicality of Linger’s comping. The song’s surprising resolution to a major tonality balances out the mournful tone and leaves the listener satisfied.
An entirely different feeling is conveyed with “A Lovely Encounter,” an upbeat Latin-influenced original. After Linger’s densely-orchestrated piano melody, Nakamura’s bass feature is a true delight, leading into tasteful piano and guitar solos. Farnsworth’s consistent cymbal pattern gives the song a forward propulsion.
The album’s title track, “Out in It” provides a jolt of energy and a catchy melody. The tight, rhythmic figures in the opening statement lead to hard-charging solos from both Bernstein and Linger, followed by Farnsworth bringing it home with a tasteful and driving drum solo.
Another highlight of the album is the piano introduction on “Linger’s Lament,” a mournful statement of the opening theme that sets the tone for an equally contemplative treatment of the melody by the guitar. The song provides a showcase for Bernstein’s musicality, and he takes advantage with a brief cadenza that offers a fitting conclusion to the track.
“Crystal Cave” is the final original composition on the album. The evocative fourth-heavy guitar melody is accompanied by a series of left-hand bass figures from Linger before a piano solo that is virtuosic and restrained all at once. Farnsworth’s melodic drum solo leads us back into a restatement of the melody before the song ends with a series of textural piano flourishes.
A thrilling contrast is Linger’s solo piano interpretation of Billy Strayhorn’s classic “Lush Life.” In Linger’s hands, the song is alternatively bombastic and melancholy, fluid and rhythmically structured. His use of the full range of the keyboard means that the listener is constantly exposed to new textures, and a brief transition to stride piano provides a surprisingly swinging interlude.
Finally, Art Farmer’s blues “Woofin’ and Tweetin’,” perhaps best known from a Gene Ammons recording, is the perfect sendoff for the album. Linger really digs in here, and his solo paves the way for equally tasteful performances by Bernstein and Nakamura. Like the rest of the record, this song just feels good.
Linger’s debut album is all about feeling. Never mind the often-virtuosic performances or the thoughtful compositions. Out In It is jazz as it should be, swinging and cohesive, and we are all lucky to hear it.
01. Thomas Linger – Can’t Say It (04:31)
02. Thomas Linger – Night Ride (06:05)
03. Thomas Linger – Mercurial Behemoth (06:46)
04. Thomas Linger – Incantation (06:06)
05. Thomas Linger – Lovely Encounter (05:29)
06. Thomas Linger – Out In It (04:52)
07. Thomas Linger – Linger’s Lament (04:40)
08. Thomas Linger – Crystal Cave (06:23)
09. Thomas Linger – Lush Life (04:57)
10. Thomas Linger – Woofin’ and Tweetin’ (06:52)