Christian Jacob: Beautiful Jazz: A Private Concert (2014)
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There was a time when pianist Christian Jacob thought he'd be making his mark as a classical pianist. That's perfectly understandable considering the fact that he was playing piano at age four and studying at the Metz conservatory at age six. By the time he was in college, studying at the Paris Conservatory, he was winning awards and prepping for piano competitions.
Jacob was following the prescribed course that classical piano hopefuls typically follow, but his destiny was with jazz. Jacob was taken with the work of Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson and other jazz luminaries early on, but it took him some time to realize that this music was his true calling.
Nowadays, it's hard to imagine that Christian Jacob could've ever doubted that his fate was tied to jazz. As a sideman, Jacob has worked with a long list of greats, from trumpeter Maynard Ferguson to vibraphonist Gary Burton to arranger/bandleader Bill Holman. He's inextricably linked to the acclaimed Tierney Sutton Band, working side by side with the nominal leader on her incredibly well-received albums, and he's gained some traction as a leader through his work with the Christian Jacob Trio. He's even worked with symphony orchestras on occasion. In short, he's done a hell of a lot for a guy who didn't figure on a career in jazz, but he's never put out a solo piano disc; that is, until now.
Beautiful Jazz: A Private Concert is Jacob's love letter to the genre that whisked him away from the waiting arms of the classical world. He tackles old favorites here, revisiting and/or revising some of the very material that drew him toward jazz in the first place. Jacob brings a sense of wonder to "How Long Has This Been Going On?," tackles "That's All" in seven, muses on "My Romance," and delivers an information-dense "Surrey With The Fringe On Top." Jacob also tips his cap to pianist Bill Evans with "I'm Old Fashioned," references his classical upbringing through Stravinsky's "Etude No. 4 in F# Major," and delivers a wonderful "September Song" arrangement that's devoid of improvisation.
This whole program was recorded at a private concert at Zipper Hall in Los Angeles, with Jacob playing on a Hamburg Steinway Model D Grand. Both the scene and the instrument helped to shape this album, but it's Jacob who delivers on the promise of the title. Beautiful Jazz it is.
Track Listing: How Long Has This Been Going On; That's All; It Might As Well Be Spring; Etude No. 4 In F# Major; My Romance; Surrey With The Fringe On Top; Tea For Two; I'm Old Fashioned; One Note Samba; Body And Soul; September Song; Giant Steps; Till The Clouds Roll By.
Personnel: Christian Jacob: piano.
Record Label: WilderJazz
Style: Modern Jazz