Jazz Album of the Week: Pianist and Bandleader Renee Rosnes is—Beloved of the Sky

May 21, 2018

May 21, 2018. Renee Rosnes is one of the most accomplished pianists in jazz today. Her extensive resume is  littered with famous names, and now she's managed to release Beloved of the Sky, her seventeenth album as a bandleader. If you’re expecting to nestle in and listen to some run-of-the-mill piano jazz, don’t get too comfortable.

Renee’s band includes Chris Potter (sax & flute), Steve Nelson (vibes), Peter Washington (Bass), and Lenny White (drums). This powerhouse band was not called in to accompany; their skills shine to the fullest extent, in the most sensible way.

At first listen, I was surprised by how reed-reliant some tracks are, but then I realized that Chris Potter is on this album for a reason. He keeps the up-tempo on the adventurous “Elephant Dust,” yet picks up a flute on “Rhythm of the River,” and keeps it fun and light, with a Latin flare.

Vibraphonist Steve Nelson didn’t catch many naps on recording days either. He complements Rosnes perfectly on “Rosie,” a tune the late vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson composed for his wife. Nelson also adds his special glow to the amazingly titled “Let the Wild Rumpus Start,” and gets to swing a bit too.

Paired up with the master rhythm section of Washington and White, it’s a wonder I expected this album to deliver anything less. Its composition and arrangements are right up there with the talent.