Dan Cavanagh is an educator (University of Texas/Arlington), composer, arranger, pianist, and leader of the Jazz Emporium Big Band. In his second release for OA2 Records entitled The Heart of the Geyser he heads an impressive trio composed of Latin- Grammy Award winner Joe McCarthy on drums and the "bassist de jour" Linda Oh.
While no fault is to be found with the quality of musicianship, the seven original Cavanagh compositions all sound as if they were written for some new age/dinner jazz radio program. Although there is a substantial amount of free flowing pianistic interpretations structured within the confines of the compositions, and Cavanagh demonstrates a delicate feel on the keyboard, with both of these traits showing up on the opening tune "Josephine", there is sameness to the results. There is some intriguing drum work by McCarthy on "Square One" and Linda Oh shows the deep round tones she can drive from her bass on "Bilder". Both go some way to add interest to the recording.
There is more opportunity to explore the meaning behind the three cover tunes that are on the disc. With Chick Corea's "Matrix", Cavanagh understands the composer's intention and gives a thoughtful rendition of the piece. On Frederick Chopin's poignant Prelude No. 4 in E Minor Linda Oh's resonant bass carries the melody to perfection and Cavanagh shows his classical training with his gossamer harmonizing, "Londonderry Air" a.k.a "Danny Boy" while brief, shows some heart in this conceptual version.
This is an appealing piano trio outing, but it would be interesting to hear what this group might do with an album of jazz standards.