Paul Neufeld Walk Together (True North) Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Tracing the connection between jazz and spirituals isn't revolutionary, but NOJO pianist Paul Neufeld brings a refreshing tone to Walk Together. It's a fairly straightforward quartet session, with Neufeld's rhythm-heavy unit using familiar melodies from songs like Deep River and Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child as springboards for deeper improvisation. Dual percussionists Nick Hockin and Paul Brundtland lurk in the background while Neufeld and bassist Rob Clutton gently stretch the tunes out in what's really a showcase for the session leader's piano playing and sense of reserve. The temptation would be to rip these standards wide open with explosive playing. Instead, Neufeld and crew keep the proceedings delightfully understated, pushing and prodding at the tunes but never losing focus.