CD Review | "Moments Preserved" from Sullivan Fortner by Tree Palmedo

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Sullivan Fortner - Moments Preserved - Impulse! Records (2018)


If you’ve seen the Roy Hargrove Quintet sometime in the last half-decade or so, you’ve probably heard the monstrous piano work of Sullivan Fortner, a virtuoso who also manages to be one of the most tasteful players in the business. For someone familiar with Fortner’s playing, it might come as a surprise that Moments Preserved is only his second release as a leader. But as with many prolific sidemen who wait a while to attend to their solo careers, Fortner’s sophomore release is worth the delay. A tight trio outing featuring bassist Ameen Saleem (also a Hargrove alum) and drummer Jeremy Clemons, Moments Preserved doesn’t break new ground in the piano trio canon, but it offers a smorgasbord of delights comprising both sprightly original tunes and creative covers. One such cover kicks off the proceedings: “Changing Keys,” famously known as the Wheel of Fortune theme song, is a stellar feature for Fortner’s lively style, with chattering chords underlying the melody and a piano solo full of bold gestures and theatrical textures. Other interpretations include a dense, captivating solo piano version of Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Fantasy,” and a pair of standard-ish numbers (“Eyes So Beautiful as Yours” and a medley of Thelonious Monk tunes) that feature maestro Hargrove himself on burnished flugelhorn melodies. Originals include the Monk-esque “Barbra’s Strut” and the sunny Latin number “New Port,” and Saleem adds one to the proceedings with the minor blues workout “Beans and Cornbread.” The trio plays well together, but this is clearly Fortner’s record, and he displays impressive levels of soul, prowess, and creativity throughout.