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Cavanagh/Miley/Hollenbeck - Another Life (NSN Alliance)

8 November 2022

Sort of a summit of jazz professors, Another Life puts pianists and composers Dan Cavanagh and James Miley together with drummer John Hollenback to see what happens. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate – Cavanagh and Miley had already begun to put the album together, with a more electronic direction in mind, before Hollenback arrived and the project evolved. While a lot of dual piano enterprises present a call-and-response approach that often emphasizes technique, this trio takes a different approach, arranging the tunes for maximum melody and atmosphere, and sounding they’re truly playing with each other, instead of alongside each other. The gorgeous “Dawn Wall,” the vibrant “Stealing Amsterdam” and the catchy title track feature the trio at their most song-oriented and communicative. Records like this usually include a standard or two; in the same spirit of not following the usual playbook, the trio includes a cool reharmonization of Lorde’s “Royals” and (minus Hollenback) a beautiful mashup of Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place” and Jerome Kern’s “All the Things You Are” entitled “All the Things in Their Right Places.” Prioritizing tunes over technique, Cavanagh, Miley and Hollenback hit on something special.