CD Review: Essential Elements is effortless, melodic jazz

Essential Elements, by Ben Paterson; MAXJAZZ records

Essential Elements, by Ben Paterson; MAXJAZZ records

I can’t stop listening to Essential Elements.

The third album from New York jazz pianist Ben Paterson, Essential Elements is mellow and melodic, easy-going and sophisticated. Paterson’s got serious chops, but it feels effortless and relaxed, like the music is just flowing out of him.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s backed up by equally talented musicians. With Joshua Ramos on bass and Jon Deitemyer on drums, the group reminds me of the Vince Guaraldi Trio. There is a common jazz pitfall where musicians who want to showcase technical prowess wind up making music that’s inaccessible to the uninitiated. This group does not have that problem.

Part of that may also be the material. The hour long album is a delicious blend of original tunes, jazz standards and classic pop tunes, seamlessly sewn together. Stevie Wonder and the Beatles are side by side with Keith Jarrett and Ray Charles. Five original compositions (such as “St. Mark’s Place,” and “Back On Track”) demonstrate Paterson’s skill in creating material as well as interpreting it. If you didn’t know what was what to begin with, you might not be able to tell; the songs all fit together perfectly. I particularly enjoy his original tune “Around the Block.”

Simply put, this album feels good. Really good. Which is why I’ve listened to it almost every day since I found it, and why you should listen to it now.

Essential Elements is available for purchase here.

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BG is a free magazine bringing you stories about Buddy Guy's Legends, blues music, and music generally. Please direct submissions to buddyguyslegends@gmail.com for consideration.

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