Pianist/composer, Ben Winkelman was born in Eugene, Oregon, but grew up in Melbourne, Australia. He's been living and working in New York City since 2010. This is his fifth album release and his goal is to find balance between composition and improvisation; planning and spontaneity. His music is wrapped in the originality of his compositions as he and his trio strive for balance between the intellectual and the intuitive. I am drawn into his work on the third tune titled, "Wheels." It's hard bop at its best, with Winkelman's fingers flying across the keys precisely and with astute technique. Matt Penman is up for the challenge, making the double bass swing and sing at maximum speed. His bass solo is beautiful and his timing is impeccable. Obed Calvaire, on drums, pushes the trio energy with maximum, but tasty power, soloing on the fade. Yes, this tune sounds gospel-based, but races straight-ahead, like its title, "Wheels" that could be attached to cars at the Indianapolis 500 races.
"Santiago" is beautifully performed by Winkelman, taking tender time in the upper-register of the grand piano, with Penman once again creating a lush bottom of bass for the pianist to sit upon.
All tracks have been composed by Ben Winkelman with the one exception, "Bye-Ya" by Thelonious Monk. Winkelman has arranged tune in his own way and states, in liner notes, that Monk is one of his favorite jazz composers. "Merri Creek" becomes a great platform for Obed Calvaire to dance on his trap drums. He and Winkelman seem to have a contrary motion moment at the introduction and before they settle into a moderate tempo, Latin-tinged tune. I enjoy the blend of Latin and straight-ahead that Winkelman integrates within this arrangement.