Pianist/composer Todd Hunter’s new album, Eat, Drink, Play, is kind of a love letter to the classic jazz piano trio. As he describes it in a promotional video, his mentors are great musical storytellers – the likes of Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal, and Oscar Peterson. This new album is intended to continue in that tradition but continue in his own voice with his own personal touch.
There is a reason why the combination of piano, bass, and drums has become the classic jazz trio combination, and listening to 10 original compositions on Hunter’s new album, the reason is clear. It is a combo that gives an inventive pianist the opportunity show what he can do.
Although he has toured extensively with vocalist Dionne Warwick, Hunter may still not have quite the recognition of some. Yet when he gets the ball, he knows what to do – the great ones always take the ball and run with it.
Hunter works with drummer Steve Hass on five tracks and Aaron Serfaty on another five. Bassist Dave Robaire plays on the first nine tracks. On the final track, Hunter moves on to the Fender Rhodes electric piano where he is joined by Rufus Philpot on the electric bass.
The album opens with “Big Bird,” a tune inspired by a reminder of that character from Sesame Street, and it includes a nod to another piano great, Vince Guaraldi, and his work on the Peanuts television specials. “Man on Deck” begins with some solo self-examination before Hunter is joined by Serfaty and Robaire for a bit of a jazz waltz. They move to a Latin beat with “Samba de Todje,” the quirky “Snake in the Bottle,” and later in the set there is the elegant “Que Linda,” which was written for his wife.
“I See More Than One” recalls the 5/4 rhythms of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.” “Moments I Remember” is a tribute to his late father. “Lucky Number 7,” “Paper Dragons” and “210 to the 15,” a musical comment on traffic in Los Angeles, complete the album.
Check out Hunter’s promotional video for the July 2016 release.