Pianist and composer Leslie Pintchik found the title for her new album in one of those "only in New York" moments. While crossing Canal Street at West Broadway in the SoHo section of Manhattan, she heard a voice behind her yell, "You eat my food, you drink my wine, you steal my girl!" As it happened, she'd just completed writing a new composition, and at that very moment she knew she'd found its title. It was a perfect fit for the sharp-elbows vibe of the piece, with its samba-funk groove, understated humor and fender-bender of an ending. So with one gruff shout, serendipity handed her a bold, spunky title, for a bold, spunky tune.
With its implied but elusive narrative and personality to spare, the outburst also turned out to be a perfect title for Pintchik's new recording, which features six of her original tunes and two standards. As on her five previous albums, Pintchik has penned a collection of songs overflowing with warmth, humor, tenderness, depth and smarts - without forsaking her razor-sharp edge. Pintchik is unique in combining a brisk energy and drive with a gift for accessible, infectious melodies - like that overheard accusation, her music strikes a unique balance between the sharp-edged and the charming. You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl! will be released February 23, 2018 via Pintch Hard Records.
In his liner notes for the CD, Allen Morrison writes "As a composer, [Pintchik is] like a novelist, unspooling each song like a good story with twists and turns, and with a story-teller's patience and sense of form. And, like a good novel, her songs appeal to both the head and the heart; they are subtle, sometimes wry, sometimes somber. I think they're not-so-buried treasures, waiting to be discovered by other jazz artists." In addition, the wide range of grooves (samba-funk with a touch of partido alto, swing, bolero, traditional samba, straight-eighths, and ballads-all played with exceptional skill and pizzazz by Leslie and her top-notch band members) is a great added pleasure.
For this outing, Pintchik returns once again with the musicians with whom she has played and recorded for many years: Steve Wilson on alto sax, Ron Horton on trumpet and flugelhorn, Scott Hardy on bass and guitar, drummer Michael Sarin, and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi. On accordion, Shoko Nagai is the newcomer, and a wonderfully intriguing addition to the mix. Recalling the recording session, Pintchik said "I had the time of my life playing with these extraordinary musicians and people, all gems and superb players."
"You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!" is not the only mouthful of a title on the album. It's topped by "Your call will be answered by our next available representative, in the order in which it was received. Please stay on the line; your call is important to us," which should instantly raise the blood pressure of anyone who's ever wasted hours of their life on hold to fix - or at least attempt to - a problem that's already wasted too much time. Fueled by that all-too-common experience, the tune swings hard with a fervor born of equal parts frustration and an antic comic spirit. Special kudos to the rhythm section for its drive amidst the unexpected stops and starts.
From the playful to the poignant: Pintchik's ballad "Mortal" was written, she says, "to express a sense of life's fragility, beauty, and especially shortness." A highlight of the set, "Mortal" showcases a fearless use of space and silence, and gorgeous heart-on-the-sleeve solos from Pintchik, Wilson, Horton and Hardy. (Of particular note is Horton's flugelhorn solo, which is both beautiful and wrenching.) On the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, "Happy Dog," as its name suggests, is a cheerful tune. Shoko Nagai plays the melody in unison with Pintchik, and the samba-based rhythm provides a simpatico backdrop for the wonderfully frisky solos of Pintchik, Hardy and Takeishi.
Like Pintchik's tunes, Edward Hopper's paintings are renowned for suggesting stories not quite told in full within the confines of their canvases. A tune with a straight eighths time feel that features Shoko Nagai on accordion, "Hopperesque" was inspired by the iconic artist's work, especially those paintings that depict people in the kind of threshold moments that provoke the viewer to wonder what happened before, and what might come after, the scene we're presented with. "I've tried," Pintchik says, "to capture that feeling of mystery."
One of the earliest tunes written for the album, "A Simpler Time" was inspired by the composer's trip to the Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts, where she was touched by the rare adult cradles that she saw, used to soothe the elderly and infirm. Pintchik characterizes the piece as "an adult lullaby." In his liner notes, Morrison writes "There's an emotional maturity to it that seems to acknowledge that life itself is not simple, that we are often overwhelmed with hard choices and mixed emotions, and we have a universal need for kindness. As with so many of Leslie's songs, the melody is memorable, but not simple."
Approaching the album's standards with the same unique perspective and wry insight that she brings to her own tunes, Pintchik plays the jazz and pop standard "I'm Glad There Is You" as a bolero, which affords the melody of this love song a lot of breathing room. In his liner notes to the CD, Allen Morrison writes "It's one of the most tender readings of this great song (by Jimmy Dorsey and Paul Madeira) that I've ever heard." The Jerome Kern/Otto Harbach chestnut "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" is played as a samba, with an added catchy rhythmic hook that bookends the melody. This version features a wonderfully relaxed rhythm section that, in the ending tag, builds up a strong head of caffeinated Brazilian steam, before the rhythmic hook returns, and it's over and out.
Before embarking on a career in jazz, Leslie Pintchik was a teaching assistant in English literature at Columbia University, where she also received her Master of Philosophy degree in seventeenth-century English literature. She first surfaced on the Manhattan scene in a trio with legendary bassist Red Mitchell at Bradley's, and in the ensuing years Pintchik formed her own trio which performs regularly at New York City jazz venues. Pintchik's debut CD So Glad To Be Here was released in June 2004, followed by Quartets in 2007. About So Glad To Be Here, Ken Micallef wrote in DownBeat "Pintchik's music is fresh, full of light and instantly invigorating (4 stars)." In the fall of 2010, she released her third CD We're Here To Listen, as well as a DVD Leslie Pintchik Quartet Live In Concert. Jim Wilke, creator of the nationally syndicated "Jazz After Hours" radio show included We're Here To Listen on his "Best CDs of 2010" list, and the jazz journalist and scholar W. Royal Stokes included both projects in his "Best of 2010" list. Pintchik's fourth CD In The Nature Of Things was released on March, 2014. Steve Futterman, in The New Yorker magazine, called it "...one of the more captivating recordings to come out so far this year...", and Gary Walker of WBGO jazz radio called it "...a gorgeous display of the trio." In his review of Pintchik's fifth CD True North-released in March, 2016-Dan Bilawsky in AllAboutJazz.com wrote "Leslie Pintchik's music has a magical draw to itŠ Getting lost in this music is simply a joy. If 2016 has a more pleasurable listen to offer than True North, this writer hasn't heard it yet. (4 1/2 stars)"
In addition to composing the music for her band, Leslie has also written the liner notes for some notable recent jazz CDs, including Duologue by saxophonist Steve Wilson and drummer Lewis Nash (on the MCG label), and Daybreak by pianist Bruce Barth (on the Savant label).