The essence of jazz can be stripped down to the piano, but the question then remains if it’s best served in trio or solo form. Here are a couple examples arguing for each direction.
1)Pianist Marc Copland teams up with Drew Gress/b and Jochen Ruickert/dr for a return to love-themed standards, as well as throwing in an original and a ringer. His subtle and tender touch borders on the intuitive on the delicate take of Joni Mitchell’s “I Don’t Know Where I Stand” and the relaxing “When I Fall in Love.” There are some sparks flying when the team agitates the waters on “I Remember You” and a re-harmonized “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” which prevents the listener from anticipating the next chorus. Charming and well thought out.
2) The music put out on this release by Jamie Reynolds and his team mates Gary Wang/b and Eric Doob/dr is alarmingly fresh and vibrant. There is clever interplay between everyone on this collection of a dozen originals, with thoughts of Brad Mehldau’s early trio work popping up in mind. Reynolds has a thoughtful touch with nary a glib hand jesture on tunes like “Singing School” or “Cold Spring” while Wang and Doob work more like a relay team than simply a greek chorus. Impressive.
3) I’ve never heard anything by pianist Sumi Tonnoka before, but this two disc set of covers and originals (which she performed at a 2010 concert) makes me want to look for other sessions. She’s got a nice touch and has influences from the mainstream and modern. She has a harmonic approach akin to Bill Evans on material like “I Hear A Rhapsody” and a very patient touch on Ellington’s “Heaven.” Her own material gets a bit more elliptical (“Phantom Carousel”), dramatic (“Mingus Mood”) and whimsical (“At Home”) showing an inquisitive approach to the 88s.
4)Bill Carothers puts together a series of (mostly) original compositions that exude warmth of home by the fire. The plaintive and folksy pieces are thoughtful, ruminating and reflect a peace that a close knit family inculcates. Except for the moody “Schizophrenic Weather” all of the pieces have a Stephen Foster homesy and cozy aura, with a hint of blues thrown in for desert. Calm and collected.
Fresh Sound New Talent