Popular culture tells us that we fall in love with other people based on how they look when getting in or out of the shower. That may be built into our genes: how well will this future partner carry on the race? But I think that lasting love relationships are built on admiration and respect more than hip-to-waist ratio, and a new CD by pianist Roberta Piket, devoted to composer Billy Mintz, is heart-warming proof:
I first encountered Billy on a recording, in his more familiar role: a jazz percussionist who is devoted to exploring not only rhythms but sounds and timbres. When I first got to see and hear him, on a session, perhaps eight years ago, led by saxophonist-composer Lena Bloch, I was deeply moved by Billy’s drumming. He has infinite curiosity and patience: I remember a solo he took on a session that was not the usual “fountain of noise” (an apt Whitney Balliett phrase) but a quiet extended exploration on a minimalist drum kit: as if he were sending thoughts to us by tapping and pausing.
Perhaps at that same gig, someone sitting at the end of the table, listening and watching closely, was invited to sit in and turned out to be a pianist of great subtlety and depth: that was Roberta. I was — there’s no other word but “fulfilled” — by their music, and they were very gracious to me, singly and together. And I learned, to my delight, that they were a happily married couple: how fortunate, how apt. I’ve encountered them in the years that followed, and have always been rewarded by their music and their gentle selves.
When I heard the music from the YouTube video above, I was delighted, and DOMESTIC HARMONY is a consistent pleasure. The virtues Billy brings to his drum set are also evident in his compositions, and the pleasures of Roberta’s playing both enhance and are enhanced by them. I keep coming back to this CD, because it exemplifies what music is and can be: pensive, lively, mournful, full of surprises. And utterly cliche-free: sweetly melodic, a series of explorations where both composer and performer invite us in, welcome us to their worlds. The compositions are GHOST SANCTUARY / BEAUTIFUL YOU / LOOKING DOWN AT THE STARS / SHMEAR / FLIGHT / DESTINY / YOUR TOUCH / BLINDS EYE / UGLY BEAUTIFUL / CANNONBALL. Roberta plays on all of them, but on DESTINY (to which Billy wrote words as well as music) she sings — ardently and genuinely.
Click on the box above to hear sound samples, purchase, download DOMESTIC HARMONY: I urge you to take the time to contemplate its beauties.
I like paradoxes, so I can only say that this disc is seriously tender, tenderly serious. And to know that it is a birthday gift from Roberta to Billy and thus to us is quite wonderful. And (it makes a difference) the disc is beautifully recorded, and Roberta’s liner notes tell us a great deal without telling us what is their shared medicine cabinet.
It’s a truly rewarding effort: what love sounds like — the durable kind that lasts long after the shower is over.
May your happiness increase!