“Sky/Lift, the Sunnyside label debut of pianist Randy Ingram and most welcome and overdue successor to 2009s The Road Ahead (Brooklyn Jazz Underground), announces itself immediately as an album of warmth, openness, buoyancy, thoughtfulness and optimism, and maintains a course reflective of these qualities in both clear-eyed and true fashion right through to its finish. The musicians–Mike Moreno (g); Matt Clohesy (b); Jochen Rueckert (d) and Mr. Ingram–reveal themselves to be both individualistically richly talented and a swinging, cohesive and communicative unit.
“All compositions except pianist Bill Evans’ Time Remembered are the work of the Alaskan-born, SoCal raised and current Brooklyn, NY resident pianist and session leader, with the first four tracks alternating quartet and trio performances respectively. The disc’s first and title track takes off in suspended fashion, as if floating on air or contemplating the sky above, inexorably building, during and following solo turns from Mr. Ingram and Mr. Moreno, towards its exciting and uplifting conclusion. At 12:00 minutes in length, the longest cut on the album, 99 hews close to its underlying rhythmic essence throughout. Proceeding with more linearity than its musical companions do, it’s a work that’s both grippingly propelling and solidly anchored, often offering a near-mesmeric listening experience. The spotlight rests almost entirely squarely on Mr. Ingram for the album’s two trio tracks, Silent Cinema, a work of melodious, low-lit melodrama and the airier and brighter Time Remembered. Whether a name-checked salute to the Missourian city, a tribute to Mr. Armstrong, or something else entirely, ‘St. Louis’ is a winningly effervescent number, with Mr. Moreno and Mr. Ingram, in that order, contributing solos.
“If interest has thus far been piqued, then rest assured the remaining three quartet tracks, The Sea, Late Romantic and the nakedly upbeat and concluding Nicky fulsomely maintain and extend the many and varied qualities described heretofore. Both Bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Jochen Rueckert contribute in sturdy and often suitably subtle fashion throughout.
“It’s sometimes possible to listen to a jazz quartet and imagine it, whether through want or necessity, as a quintet or a sextet. In the case of this quartet, their sonic signature is so pleasing, exacting and precisely balanced as to render that imagined need or idea moot. In doubling the size of his leader discography, pianist Randy Ingram exponentially increases the listener’s need for more recordings, and the sooner the better.”