A stew whose ingredients include straight jazz, sassy blues and classic
soul might be a good way to describe what pianist Leslie Pintchik cooks
up with True North (Pintch Hard Records, 2016). With original
titles that play on common sayings, like “Just Sayin’” and “Crooked as a
Dog’s Leg,” and a small assortment of covers, Pintchik serves up a
delicious meal for the ears.
Performing with Pintchik are Scott Hardy, bass; Michael Sarin, drums;
Satoshi Takeishi, percussion on all but the closing track; and Steve
Wilson, alto and soprano saxophones, and Ron Horton, trumpet and
flugelhorn on selected tracks.
“Tumbleweed” is a moderately paced, ambient piece. One can visualize the
Nevada desert, where the piano represents traveling the countryside,
with the soft play of the horns being the wind that causes the
tumbleweed to roll across the landscape. Bass and drum rhythms add just
a touch of samba, and the percussion suggests an animal or two that come
across the tumbleweed’s path. Horton and Wilson contribute solos.
“Crooked as a Dog’s Hind Leg,” one of six Pintchik originals, plays up
that saucy, spicy element. It’s perfect for an old-school jukehouse, a
street party or a festival celebrating regional delicacies, whether it
be fried catfish, boiled crawfish or shrimp jambalaya. Horton and Wilson
trade licks during the middle break, while Hardy, Sarin and Takeishi add
seasoning. The horns go at it with vigor during one stretch where it
seems everyone who isn’t holding an instrument is dancing like no one’s
Pintchik was a teaching assistant in English literature at Columbia
University, where she received a master’s degree in philosophy in
17th-century English literature. She emerged on the jazz scene playing
in a trio in Manhattan. Her debut release was 2004’s So Glad to Be
Here. True North is her fifth recording as a leader.