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East Coast pianist Betty Liste interprets timeless masterworks of Cole Porter, Miles Davis, and others on second album


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Pianist Betty Liste continues her explorations of American pop standards with her second album, Jazz Ventures (Pure Communications). Liste interprets the timeless masterworks of Cole Porter, Miles Davis, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, among others, with youthful exuberance, emotional depth, and impressive skill.

Liste's selection of covers reveals the dazzling range of her playing, from the percolating Latin stomp of Thelonious Monk's “Well, You Needn't" to the breathtaking swing of “East of the Sun" to the moving romanticism of “I Fall in Love Too Easily." Liste's sharp performances convey a variety of moods and styles that make the album a thoroughly captivating experience.

Liste has been a professional pianist since 1978. She made her debut at Gulliver's and Three Sisters in New Jersey, two of the region's most respected jazz rooms. Not long after, Liste was already performing in New York City. But to Liste, playing the piano is not just a career choice; it's a part of who she is. “Playing jazz piano is part of my very being," Liste explained. She added that it “has many functions. Aside from the complexities of merely playing the piano, the jazz pianist has to be a soloist, an accompanist and most of all, a team player, blending with every other member in the band."

Liste's ability to gel with her fellow musicians is in vivid display on Jazz Ventures. On “Up Jumped Spring," Liste's rollicking piano locks in a toe-tapping groove with Bob Funesti's pulsating bass. While Liste's sprightly piano propels the infectious rhythms of Porter's “Dream Dancing," Tom Baker's shuffling drums and Funesti's snappy bass provide a solid backbeat. Guest vocalist Bill Robinson appears on four tracks, his moving baritone an extension of the emotions that Liste conveys with her piano. On “I Could Write a Book," Liste's energized performance captures the unrestrained joy of Robinson's singing as Funesti's bass thumps with the deep throbbing of a heartbeat. Throughout the album there is a feeling of warmth and optimism, especially on “Night and Day," in which Robinson's wonderfully upbeat vocals are echoed by Liste's spirited playing.

Liste plays regularly at the Stony Hill Inn and Trumpet's Jazz Club in New Jersey. Her debut, Pensive Moments, was released in 2006. Liste is now exposing her music to a global audience with Jazz Ventures. “I believe that jazz is the most universal language," Liste said. “It is understood by cultures around the world."

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