Ben Winkelman
OA2 Records
4 stars
Reviewed by Barry O’Sullivan

Pianist Ben Winkelman’s sixth album as a leader features nine original compositions, with four played by the pianist’s trio and five with the addition of jazz heavyweights Gilad Hekselman (guitar), Matt Penman (bass) and Obed Calvaire (drums). The album draws inspiration from his anticipation of becoming a father and the feeling of crises and isolation at the start of the pandemic while living in New York. Winkelman’s compositions draw on diverse interests, with an emphasis on rhythmic exploration, some strong melodic lines and group interplay. The music flows extremely well, and there is frequently a swing to it on a range of moods and stylistic influences. The quartet bookends the album with three at the beginning and two at the end, with the four trio tunes grouped in the middle, creating an impressive set of improvised music. My favourite pieces, Wandering, Isolation, Heartbeat and Fort Tilden highlight the melodic skills of the musicians whilst still exhibiting their keen improvisational abilities. All hold sway throughout the recording, which is of an extremely high standard sonically. However, there are pressurised rhythmic accentuations presenting as well, with sharp unisons and some muscular drumming at times. Ultimately, it all hangs together nicely and cohesively, demonstrating the stylish contemporary art of the ensemble.