Sometimes, it’s the selection of music. Other times, it’s how the music is presented. The latter is the case with pianist David Arnay’s 8 (2013).
The tracks are numbered – in more ways than one. Each song is assigned to an ensemble format, solo, duo, trio, etc., with each title in progression having one more musician than the previous number.
This is Arnay’s third release as a leader. The set begins with a solo piano rendition of the Duke Ellington classic, “Caravan.” Arnay plays the melody straight, but does allow himself to stretch out a bit during the middle break. The pianist is joined by bassist Edwin Livingston and drummer Peter Erskine for the delightful “Billville,” one of six original songs on this date. Arnay carries the piece with light accompaniment. Doug Webb brings the tenor sax into the mix for the sassy, swinging “Step Four.” Webb enjoys a spirited lead while Arnay and the others lay the foundation.
Other musicians who contribute to 8 are percussionist Munyungo Jackson, guitarist Paco Loco, trumpeter Dan Fornero and trombonist Vikram Devasthali. The various ensembles pack quite a punch, and they do so efficiently. The entire set is just 38 minutes.
“Credit my son, Miles Ganon Arnay,” with the concept, Arnay says. “I’d been thinking about putting together a trio to record, but brainstorming with Miles, who works in the music business on the marketing side, he came up with this approach that really got me excited about arranging for a growing band of instruments.”
It’s certainly a different approach. And it works well.