We are just now beginning to see musicians come of age who were born back when Beatlemania swept ashore. Understandably, they are more visible in pop and rock music, but jazz has also attracted a sizable number. Pieces of a Dream, the young trio that appeared at Blues Alley last night, represents an encouraging development in jazz.
Although each member of the group is under 20, their musicianship and repertoire belies their youth. As they launched into a swinging "Shiny Stockings" and a witty "Take the 'A' Train," it was easy to understand why jazz vibest Milt Jackson has become one of the group's biggest boosters. They share his sense of rhythmic drive, tonal clarity and precision.
Pianist James Lloyd frequently alternated between bluesy trills and emphatic, charging choruses. Bassist Cedric Napoleon was impressive on both acoustic and electric instruments; the former pushed "Witchcraft" into a brisk tempo; the latter put plenty of muscle behind the fusion number "Easy Road Home." Curtis Harmon was assertive but never overbearing on drums.
Augmenting the trio was vocalist Barbara Walker, whose sassy exuberance on "Autumn Leaves" was very much in keeping with the band's traditional outlook. With musicians such as these on the horizon, the future of jazz looks promising indeed.