Pianist Richard Grossman passed away in 1992 and unfortunately never received the widespread recognition attributed to many of his peers in modern jazz. Released in 1998 on the Swiss based “Hatology” label, Even Your Ears
provides excellent insight into the mind and potent attack of Grossman’s modernist approach to jazz piano and improvisation.
The opener and solo piano performance, “Fresh Vegetables” represents Grossman’s unique left-hand right-hand coordination while conveying the perception or impression of two pianists performing alternating themes. Here, Grossman states his ideas in conversational clusters as his overall execution is piercing and quick-witted; hence, one can expect the unexpected. Grossman is the abstract painter on “Stickiest Day Of The Year” as he is joined by percussionist Alex Cline and bassist Ken Filiano. On this piece, Cline utilizes gongs, bells and cymbals in support of Grossman’s colorful yet enigmatic chord progressions and single note runs. Filiano’s arco-bass serves as the common ground or axis for the band as a sense of urgency develops, showcasing Grossman’s sagacity and articulate improvisational skills. “Tomorrow’s A National Holiday” is playful yet full of group dialogue and at times tempestuous. Grossman is the catalyst as Cline and Filiano work the perimeters of the composition, which enable Grossman to explore and elucidate his boundless creative juices.
In the CD liners writer Art Lange points out, “For most of his life, Grossman was a figure in the shadows of contemporary jazz, never receiving much public or critical recognition.” Even Your Ears serves as a posthumous illustration of how some artists receive their justifiable adulation or moments in the spotlight after they have passed on. These compositions were recorded live between 1990 and 1992 at venues in California. Thankfully, Swiss based Hatology records had the foresight along with a sense of obligation to exploit the true talents of a master technician and improviser. * * * * *