Being a pianist, I am fascinated in hearing how musicians whose primary instrument is not the
piano, touch the keys. While there are seemingly no limits to the variety of sounds which can
be achieved through the instrument, I’ve noticed that horn players, bassists, drummers and
vocalists inevitably approach the piano with an unaffected kind of fresh take, untethered by
constraints imposed by the ego of a self-claimed pianist.
With crystal clear articulation and a refreshingly welcoming economy of notes, Nicholas
achieves such a warm, infectiously optimistic mood from the piano without broadcasting any
sort of agenda to exhibit “pianism.” And this lack of a projected impulse to affect a virtuosic
front creates some of the most inviting piano I’ve heard in recent times.
The mutual respect within the band is abundantly apparent in every turn of phrase. Anyone
who’s truly listening can sense that Nicholas, Vicente and Bill love playing together. This is an
energetically engaged band. All three players are so versed in music that they share values
and an unspoken attitude of zero jiveness or “show biz” trickery in their collective approaches.
This music is fertile and potent with emotion, and all the while the wide-ranging sweep of
moods represented on these two discs is doing things to your ears and body, there is an
ongoing dialogue in every moment for the intellectual seeker to feast on.
Nicholas’ piano playing reveals an unhampered approach to telling a story and connecting with
the rhythm section organically rather than stacking upon them. This chemistry mirrors how
much easier it becomes for humans to connect in substantial ways when egos are set aside
with an intention to support and compliment one another. Nicholas’ piano playing speaks with
the clarity of honesty and a noticeably selfless, organic vibe that I must say I’ve never quite
heard or felt before.
There is a sonorous nature to the songs and intervals which cause a piece we’ve never previously heard to feel like a hip long-lost friend, like meeting someone and intuitively feeling so relaxed around them as though you’ve known them all your life.
~Benny Green, 2015