His latest trio effort for Dreyfus does little to change my admittedly counter-intuitive opinion. Regular sideman Boris Kozlov joins drum doyen Billy Hart as Pilc's sidemen and their roles point to one of my chief problems. Pilc is in command of his instrument to a fault on occasion. He takes his positioning to practice, playing the hell out of keys but only rarely allowing his partners what sounds like equitable input into the pacing and direction of the pieces. Kozlov appears amenable to the dynamic, but consigning a player of Hart's caliber to the figurative backseat almost seems an offense. Call it the Art Tatum Syndrome, though Tatum had the advantage of singularity of precedence to offset his tendency towards session monopoly.
The program is predictably Pilc-centric as well with only three of the pieces falling outside his compositional dragnet. He even customizes a Schubert tune to the occasion. The closing five-part title suite encapsulates the troublesome band differential as Pilc's guiding patterns rise and recede between rumbling dissonance and lush lyricism. Hart and Kozlov dutifully follow the often two-handed forceful leads, but the dynamic feel vexingly out of balance much of the time, almost as if the pieces would've been better served in a solo setting. My stated biases aside, there's still a fair amount of dramatically-charged playing here. It's the part of Pilc's powers that transcends my criticism and explains how's cultivated the enviable positioning he currently enjoys.