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CD Review: Lara Driscoll “Woven Dreams”

By Hrayr Attarian

Lara Driscoll Woven Dreams

Lara Driscoll – Piano

Paul Rushka – Bass

Dave Laing – Drums

Pianist and educator Lara Driscoll showcases her elegant style and understated virtuosity on her charming debut, Woven Dreams. This intimate trio date consists mainly of Driscoll’s lyrical originals and has a laid-back vibe and a warm, cozy ambience. These attributes give the album a thematic cohesiveness that also extends to the handful of carefully chosen standards.

For instance, Driscoll interprets pianist Billy Strayhorn’s “Isfahan” unaccompanied. Her right hand embellishes the wistful melody while her left contributes resonant rhythmic flourishes. Gradually she deconstructs the classic tune down to its essence with masterful pianism. Therefore, at is conclusion, it remains a Strayhorn composition, while simultaneously bearing Driscoll’s own unique mark.

In comparison, Driscoll’s “ECMT Blues” is equally poetic and captivating. Driscoll exchanges lines with her bandmates and improvises with intelligence and a tender touch. The track also showcases bassist Paul Rushka’s eloquent and agile extemporization and drummer Dave Laing’s suave and passionate rumbling solo.

The three musicians’ synergistic camaraderie is well documented throughout. As an example, Rushka and Driscoll exchange individual notes in an achingly beautiful dialogue on the nostalgic “Siblings.” Beyond this delightful duet the ensemble performance is so seamlessly fluid as to come from a single mind. Out of the collective, undulating refrains emerge individual expressions with graceful sophistication and emotive sensibility.

Two other highlights of this uniformly engaging work are the whimsical “Airport Limbo” and the mesmerizing title track. The former features overlapping angular vamps that evolve into a bright and witty spontaneous conversations. The latter, in contrast, is a lullaby-like nocturne drenched in soul and indigo hues. Driscoll builds the main theme with dense and reverberating chords peppered by single chiming notes. Laing’s soft brushes and Rushka’s sparse thumps enhance the mellow and shimmering atmosphere.

Woven Dreams is a superb first statement from a talented musician who, so early in her career, has developed her own singular sound. Driscoll enthralls with her gentle approach to the keys and fascinates with her writing chops. Having understanding sidemen who are in sync certainly adds another layer of listening enjoyment.

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