Lynne Arriale Trio, The Lights Are Always On Review
by Icrom Bigrad
Pianist Lynne Arriale is back with her sixteenth album as a leader called The Lights Are Always On. The pianist/composer presents original music as a suite of compositions that reflect the worldwide, life-changing events of the past two years. Several of the pieces are named in honor of heroes who served as caregivers on the front lines of the COVID pandemic and defenders of democracy. She is joined by bassist/co-producer Jasper Somsen and drummer E.J. Strickland.
“The Lights Are Always On” has a gentle melody with a perpetual arpeggio figure that is the foundation under the theme. Strickland’s drumming is very supportive and interactive with Arriale as the trio builds the straight-eight selection to an arching climax. They have chemistry, and all three listen and speak the same jazz language. The result is a moving composition that has an identifiable sound and presence.
“The Notorious RBG” is Arriale’s dedication to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which has a catchy melody and themed rhythmic chordal pattern. Here, Arriale’s solo is filled with wide-spanning arpeggios and building phrases. The trio again communicates with each other to build each section. Somsen’s solo is melodic and continues in the same vein as Arriale’s harmonic/melodic colors.
The Lights Are Always On title was inspired by Dr. Prakash Gada, an esophageal and robotic surgeon in Tacoma, Washington. Arriale says, “This collection was inspired by the doctor and all front-line health care workers. For me, Dr. Gada crystallized the workers’ heroism, each day bearing the risk of personal infection and enduring the emotional toll of staggering caseloads presented by this global crisis. Nevertheless, the doctor said, ‘Here I am back at work after COVID…I fled Kuwait after the invasion. No matter what happens, no one works at home. The lights are always on. Babies are being born; bones are being set. This hospital, this profession…..we are in a league of our own; we’ll take care of you, I promise. I stand next to the most fearless people I have ever seen.” Arriale continues, “The album also expresses my special admiration for the character of Representative John Lewis, Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and the patriots of the Capitol Police who stepped into the breach risking their lives to defend our elected representatives and our democracy during the January 6, 2021, Insurrection.” The result is a powerful collection of songs performed by a like-minded trio of depth and musicality.