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Luciano Troja: At Home with Zindars (2010)

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Luciano Troja: At Home with Zindars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Italian pianist Luciano Troja—like saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
Julian
Julian "Cannonball" Adderley
1928 - 1975
saxophone
, drummers Philly Joe Jones
Philly Joe Jones
Philly Joe Jones
1923 - 1985
drums
and Tony Williams
Tony Williams
Tony Williams
1945 - 1997
drums
, accordionist Dino Saluzzi
Dino Saluzzi
Dino Saluzzi
b.1935
bandoneon
, guitarists Larry Coryell
Larry Coryell
Larry Coryell
b.1943
guitar
and Emily Remler
Emily Remler
Emily Remler
1957 - 1990
guitar
,and trumpeter Donald Byrd
Donald Byrd
Donald Byrd
1932 - 2013
trumpet
before him—discovered the beauty of pianist/composer Earl Zindars's music via the numerous interpretations of pianist Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
. Enchanted by Zindars's compositions, Troja embarked on a five-year odyssey to meet the sources of Zindars's inspiration—his wife and daughters—and to record, over several years, sixteen of Zindars's pieces. Troja's dedication and evident inspiration gave rise to these heartfelt and arresting personal forays into a composer's music whose influence on Evans was profound.

"Mother of Earl," was first recorded by Evans in 1957, and remained in his repertoire until the very end. Evans recorded nine Zindars's compositions—of which Troja interprets four here—and performed others which were never recorded officially. In an informative 34-page accompanying booklet, Troja relates how Zindars often composed with Evans in mind; a single listen to "Four Times 'Round," "Waltz," and "Karen's Mode"—all highly evocative of Evans' sound—suggests that this was also true in the years after the pianist's' sadly premature death in 1980.

Zindars influenced Evans through his employment of changing time signatures—something which was quite innovative in jazz in the '50s—in the slowness of his ballad tempos, and, probably, in the sparseness of his left-hand voicings. Although a tribute to Zindars, Troja's sensitive touch, the lyricism that he mines in these compositions, and his quiet power, in effect highlight the close musical bond between Zindars and Evans. On the one Troja original, appropriately titled "Earl and Bill," Troja becomes part of that bond with a classically tinged piece, part requiem and part nostalgic tribute. The serenity and romanticism of the piece, and its intensity, recalls trumpeter Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
' description of Evans' "quiet fire."

Troja's liberal interpretation of "Sareen Jurer (The Mountain's Water)" confirms that Zindars's inspiration has not curtailed his freedom of expression. Inspired by an idea of Zindars's Armenian wife Anne, the composition traces the harmonic progression of water from the peak of the Ararat Mountain along its course to the valley below. Troja's performance is both grand and eloquent, flirting with the blues early on, building a circuitous momentum and, all in all, capturing the drama of the episodic narrative.

Perhaps Zindars's best known piece, "How My Heart Sings"—much loved by Evans—contains a pedal sustain that was possibly another of Zindars's legacies to Evans; here, Troja's interpretation is delicate yet assured. The closing "Roses for Anning" was Zindars's final composition and was, like so many others in his oeuvre, inspired by his wife. In a way, it sounds like the perfect coda to "How My Heart Sings," written 43 years before.

Previously, only pianist Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
Bill Cunliffe
b.1956
piano
has dedicated an entire CD to Zindars's music—How My Heart Sings (Torri Records, 2003); now, Troja adds to Zindars's reputation, succeeding admirably in translating the beauty that lies in Zindars's simplicity, and in navigating the deceptively complex structures in which these rhapsodic poems of love abide.

Track Listing: Mother of Earl; Nice Place; Silverado Trail; Four Times 'Round; Z Waltz; Sareen Jurer--The Mountain's Water Part One; Sareen Jurer--The Mountain's Water Part Two; Lullaby for Helene; Karen's Mode; My Love is like an April Song; Three Times 'Round; Earl and Bill; I Always Think of You; Joy; How My Heart Sings; Roses for Annig.

Personnel: Luciano Troja: piano.

Record Label: Luciano Troja


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