4 1/2 STARS
Pianist Danny Green took a big step up in the piano trio rankings with 2014's After The Calm (OA2 Records). The San Diego-based group focused in on a distinctive and beautiful set of Green originals and recorded them with a continuity of mood and an ebullient brio - like three guys who knew what they were doing in an art that demands nuance and delicacy sitting beside - in time's flow - a rise and fall of robustness of approach that just might evolve, when the music calls for it, the occasional joyful percussive zest.
With Altered Narratives, Green and company - bassist Justin Grinnell and drummer Julien Cantelm - show that they can go two-for-two in producing first-rate piano trio jazz, again on a set of tunes penned by pianist Green. The pianist's tune-smithing is slightly idiosyncratic with an anchor in the tradition. His melodies have a sense of wonder ("Serious Fun"), sometimes a sense of fun ("Benji's Song"), and the tongue might at times lodge in the cheek ("I Hate The Blues"), as he applies his supple-but-strong touch to the keyboard, accompanied by the bassist and drummer who may lean closer to the "accompanist" mode - as opposed to the democratic approach, while still injecting their individualistic sounds into the music.
The disc's opener, "Chatter From All Sides" is a slinky, cool dude strut. "The Merge" zooms along, edgy and frenetic, and "October Ballad" is an alluring reverie.
Then there's the leap that sets this apart from Green's previous recording: three tunes, in the middle of the eleven tune set, featuring the addition of a string quartet. There's nothing that adds a touch of elegance to a jazz set more than an adeptly-done string arrangement, and these are superb: violins, viola and cello in a sinuous, sometimes whispering embrace with a vibrant, top-notch piano trio, delving into Danny Green's distinguished compositions.