Oct 26, 2010
Am I wrong to think that Taylor Eigsti’s latest CD is a tad formulaic? I don’t want to denigrate the talented pianist’s chops, nor his growing ability as a composer, as witnessed by multiple Grammy nominations. But in many ways, Daylight at Midnight seems like it was put together by some A&R person. Do we have some covers of modern rock like Bill Frisell does ? Coldplay’s “Daylight”is here; check. Nick Drake covers like Brad Mehldau? “Pink Moon”; check. Vocalist added on a bunch of tracks like the Bad Plus? Becca Stevens on hand; check.
In comments he made about the CD, Eigsti explained that he wanted to move away from standards and tackle “the singer-songwriter world”, which may explain why the selections seem to follow in other artists’ footsteps. In some ways that’s too bad, because Eigsti has emerged as a formidable player, both as a leader and as a sideman with Julian Lage and Eric Harland. He really has no need to shoehorn himself into the same role as so many other musicians at this point in his career.
Having made that criticism, I must say that I enjoyed Daylight at Midnight very much. Eigsti’s trio, which includes bassist Harish Raghavan and drummer Harland, has a wonderful sense of unity, particularly when playing with delicacy on some of the quieter numbers like Rufus Wainwright’s “The Art Teacher”. He switches off piano to use the Fender Rhodes and other electric instruments that warm and fill out tunes like “Little Bird”. Ms. Stevens is a unique sounding singer, whose voice is highly instrumental sounding, making her seem more like part of the band than a guest.
Having visited these songs, perhaps Eigsti’s next CD will focus more on his originals and less on covering the ground others have already trod quite well.