Release Date: October 20, 2023
Label: Outside In Music
Covers exhibits Pino in a brand new and decidedly fresh context with this pared-down quartet release offering listeners an intimate look into the Phoenix-born, New York-based artist’s singular sound. The eight tracks on Covers represent Pino's stellar arrangements of repertoire composed by friends and heroes. He is joined on this potent release by guitarist Alex Goodman, bassist Rick Rosato, and drummer Allan Mednard.
Covering other musicians' repertoire is a significant part of the history of the jazz art form. While jazz musicians continue to innovate within the confines of great American songbook standards, artists covering the work of their contemporaries seems to have become somewhat of a lost art. “Playing someone else's music provides an interesting musical lens for the listener, and an exciting, and perhaps sometimes challenging, jumping off point for the artist,” reflects Pino. On Covers, Pino brings his own muscular sound to pieces composed by artists such as Toninho Horta, Peter Schlamb, and Alex LoRe.
Having dedicated much of the past decade focusing on his large ensemble the No Net Nonet, recording three successful albums with that outfit and recording consistently as a sideman with artists such as Nick Finzer, Samora Pinderhughes and Jeremy Siskind, Pino faced a major career and life shift during the COVID pandemic. Pino remarks “The pandemic stopped our public performances and my wife [saxophonist Roxy Coss] and I decided to take the break as an opportunity to have a child. After our daughter was born, I really felt different about my purpose for making art and music. Right now, I don’t feel the need to be so much “in control” of what is happening within the music. I am more interested in allowing the music to happen and embracing the fact that perfect is the enemy of good.”
One of the finest examples of the quartet’s interplay can be found with the album opener “Moonstone” by Toninho Horta. Guitarist Alex Goodman’s expert comping provides stunning soundscapes on which Pino’s melodic refrains gently lay. Bassist Rick Rosato and drummer Allan Mednard provide the perfect amount of support while also adding to the dynamic, thematic nature of the piece. Pino and Rosato both take deeply lyrical, evocative solos on this piece.
Pino’s take on Peter Schlamb’s “REL” presents the listener with an assertive, driving melody section that is nothing short of anthemic. Pino notes “I love how Alex Goodman infuses rhythm and blues into his solo and comping back into the out head.” The piece as a whole is a masterclass on dynamics, and demonstrates a deep synergy between the four ensemble members.
The group swings deeply on “Amnesia” by Alex LoRe. First and foremost, Pino marries his bop and post-bop sensibilities here to craft an improvisation that all at once asserts his respect for tradition and desire for innovation. Goodman follows, lending his singular tone and supple, and sometimes angular, melodicism to this composition. The bandleader exclaims “This period in Alex’s writing always sounded like the next logical step after Tristano. Written over the changes of the standard “I Remember You”. Mednard and Rosato’s swinging hookup is deep on this track, and Allan’s brushes blowing over the form toward the end is a masterclass in melodicism and development.”
The group explores their use of space on the album closer “Waltz For MD”. Beginning with a duo performance between Rosato and Goodman, the piece seems to transform over time, intimately featuring guitar, saxophone and bass at various periods. Periods of density and space lend themselves to the overall story telling - this is truly the interplay of masters.
Regarding the musicians in his newly formed quartet, Pino remarks “Each of these musicians are a conceptual master of tone. The depth of the sound they achieve makes every improvisational choice made command my attention. They possess a constant awareness, stirring and folding their sound into one another. It was really special placing them in the same room during the recording, which is something that doesn’t happen all too often these days because of the fear of mistakes and being unable to correct them. The live room recording highlights just how sensitively and fearlessly they play. Each is an artist at the height of their expression.”
Aside from his improvisational and compositional prowess, perhaps yet another of Pino’s superpowers is to give his bandmates the ability to shine by allowing them to truly be themselves - creating a band sound that is entirely their own. It is rare that an artist can use an album of covers to tell a story about themselves, their own sound, and their musical sensibilities, but with Covers, Lucas Pino does just that.
"“Covers” is the kind of album that flows particularly smoothly. From the first note, you feel at ease and remain engaged throughout. It’s so immersive that the eight tracks on this album pass by incredibly quickly, leaving you wanting more." Check out the full review here.
" With a bluesy melody somewhat reminiscent of “Goodbye Porkpie Hat”, it’s a feature for the composer’s poignant solo over Goodman’s soft chords. " Check out the full review here.