South Bay-raised pianist Taylor Eigsti has plenty of right to be choosy. At 26-years-old, he’s advanced from child prodigy-dom to young lion-dom with relative ease, toured with James Moody and Gretchen Parlato, and garnered accolades from Dave Brubeck. As a sideman, he’s shared stages with the most promising young stars in jazz. As a leader, he’s careful to work with people who match his quiet, exacting sensibility. That explains the choice of personnel on Eigsti’s new album, Daylight at Midnight. Most tracks feature a quartet — Eric Harland on drums, Harish Raghavan on bass, Becca Stevens providing vocals and various adornments — but occasionally, Eigsti goes solo or plays with Stevens. His interpretation of the Imogen Heap tune “Little Bird” sounds delicate, for all its complex keyboard lines. Part of the beauty derives from depth and contrast, as Stevens floats airily over the fat, globby bass notes of Eigsti’s Fender Rhodes. It’s arresting.
Eigsti is a very baroque sounding pianist, even though he grew up playing jazz standards and funk. Just listen to his thoughtful rendition of “Secreto” by 20th-century Catalan composer Federico Mompou. Or his forceful comping on “Magnolia,” and the Nick Drake cover “Pink Moon.” Many songs on Daylight are closer to indie rock than jazz. They don’t swing in the traditional be-bop way, and they seldom hew to a simple verse-chorus-bridge format. “Little Bird” and the Eigsti-Stevens original, “Midnight After Noon,” show the promiscuous quality of Eigsti’s muse. That said, it’s a carefully crafted album. Eigsti is not really a genre purist — he’s evidently more concerned with tonal coherence. It’s that approach that makes this album wonderful. (Concord Jazz)