Bruno Råberg Trio, Tailwind (Red Piano Records)
Råberg’s bass—at once relaxed and penetrating—is at the heart of a collection of his compositions. The sole piece written by someone else is Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Here’s That Rainy Day,” a feature for the leader’s seductive bowing. Råberg follows the Van Heusen with his own “Rainy Day Farewell,” which he may have conceived with Jamaica and Harry Belafonte in mind. Adam Cruz’s drum pattern supports that notion. Throughout, Cruz and pianist Bruce Barth back Råberg with sensitivity and close attention to his harmonic departures. That unity is particularly effective in “Tailwind,” the album’s title tune. Into the structure Råberg builds what we might call rolling interludes that enhance the piece’s forward motion.
The ballad “A Closer Look,” dating back more than three decades, is a piece that Råberg and Barth played together in their early years In Boston, not long after the bassist arrived in the United States from Sweden to attend the New England Conservatory. Rather than a peaceful survey, the energy of “Paris Window” might portray a busy excursion down the Champs Elysées. On the other hand, “Lone Tree Hill” is as peaceful as its title indicates, Barth’s rippling runs and full chords contrasting with Cruz’s chattering drums and cymbals before the track falls slowly away. Each of the two takes of “Le Candide” has its own lively personality, the first driven by the conversational interchanges between Råberg and Cruz, the second dominated by the masterful variety in Barth’s piano choruses. As usual when listening to Barth, one wonders why he isn’t mentioned more often in discussions about major pianists.