Pat Battstone’s The Last Taxi: New Destinations is reviewed by Lemon Wire

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Pat Battstone continues to make artful jazz on “New Destinations”

Pianist Pat Battstone presents his latest album in his “The Last Taxi” series. As of April 2019, “New Destinations” finds him collaborating again with Italian singers and an artist to continue the saga of two taxi drivers who meet to smoke and talk. The “narrative” began in 2009. In 2012, the fictional or hypothetical taxi began to accept passengers in 2012. The idea was that the taxi was an opportunity to escape via safe transport.

The idea of the last taxi is an international experience that connects new and unforeseen elements. The songs on the album represent the stories that the taxi drivers might tell. Listeners, or passengers are made privy to a series of narratives in songs, sometimes with the aid of singer Chiara Liuzzi.

The stories exist from across time periods, places and worlds. Here, tales of desert life, gothic adventures, horror stories and stories from French cafes all find a place in the canon of the last taxi.

With a broad scope and new narratives, “New Destinations,” is as likely to engage audiences as its predecessors.

About Pat Battstone

Battstone has been a professional musician since he was 14 years old. Then, he played in a variety of bands that represented rock ‘n’ roll, blues and r&b. Battstone’s education, by the time he was 18, included lessons with Stan Kenton and Gary Burton. Along the way, he received mentoring from Oscar Treadwell. His performance resume included gigs with members of James Brown recording sidemen and members of the musical “Hair.”

Battstone’s formal education included studying at Berklee School of Music in 1973. He then studied with Mme. Chaloff and Charlie Bonacos. In 1986, Battstone returned to jazz. Since his return to jazz, Battstone has become known for being at home with any form of jazz, groove and r&b. He has recorded seven CDs with Italian vocalists since 2016, and two more are forthcoming. His previous CDs have charted into the mid-teens on the CMJ Jazz charts for multiple weeks.

“New Destinations” finds Battstone creating music while artist Daniela Chionna creates artwork. This results in music and art in a spontaneous interplay setting.

The sound of “New Destinations” by Pat Battstone

The album has 13 songs. The soundscape is decidedly artful, and in some ways, experimental. Although, seven albums in, “experimental” hardly seems the current term for what Battstone and his ensemble are doing. The sounds presented project a mood that is determined by the theme or title. Listeners can hear the improvisation, the ways of building a motif and then segueing into another. An excellent example of this is “All the Birds Have Flown.”

“All the Birds Have Flown” begins with an energetic, shimmery drum tattoo. As the song continues beyond the first few measures, unexpected piano and other instruments that might be less familiar to audiences join in. In the middle of the song, effects that sound like deconstructing string instruments begin to take over the soundscape. High-pitched woodwinds, such as piccolos, do more than accent the work.

Then, the deconstructing sounds give way to obvious bass and groove and a guitar growls and cries. The drum and guitar motif have taken a turn toward rock and roll, and the piano accents. The song ends on this most unexpected change in soundscape. The song is quite a ride and there is nothing to do when it ends except ponder how did the song arrive at such a place. Then it is time to listen again.

The decidedly artistic turns on “New Destinations” are obvious on every song. Audiences will no doubt wonder “how did they do that?” after each song has arrived at its logical end.

Kari Gaffney

Kari Gaffney

Since 1988 Kari-On Productions has helped artists get an even footing in the industry through jazz promotion in the genres of Jazz, World & Latin Jazz through Jazz Radio and Publicity. Why do we do both, because they compliment each other, and we care about fiscal longevity for the artist.

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