Jon Di Fiore – Yellow Petals
(Third Freedom Music 1003. CD Review by Eric Ford)
Jon Di Fiore is a drummer, classical percussionist, pianist and composer based in New Jersey. He’s written nine varied tracks, each on a theme, for the debut CD of his trio with Adrian Moring on bass and Billy Test on piano. All three are recent graduates, and in fact Test is still doing a Masters at the Manhattan School of Music on a full scholarship – which tells you that he’s pretty spesh. For me, he steals the show on this CD. There’s a Brad Mehldau influence (amongst others) in his playing and he has some serious classical chops to unleash at climactic moments, as well as demonstrating great restraint, sensitivity, swing, imagination and everything else you’d hope for from a jazz pianist at other times.
Despite the modernity of some of Test’s playing, it seems to me that this album has a mid-sixties Rudy Van Gelder aura about it thanks to the warmth of the sound, the sound of the drums (like Gretsch drums from that era with the tuning you’d expect to hear on those recordings) and cymbals (eg the infamous Tony Williams ride), the “woodiness” of the bass and the compositions themselves. Who’d have thought a tune inspired by “the low income architecture of New Orleans” could be as wistful and lovely as Shotgun House is? I wonder what Di Fiore would come up with if confronted by some of the ‘low income architecture’ in London?!
Lots of drummers write tunes around unusual rhythms or figures that they’ve come up with but – with the exception of Orange – that’s not the case here. There’s plenty of variation of speed and “vibe”, a tune in 6/4, another in 7/4, one in 6/8, some moments of abstraction, but still there’s a very homogenous feel to the album. Again, I think this has a lot to do with the sound but also Di Fiore’s playing, which is always subtle and not “chopsy”.