Rich Perry & Harold Danko: East of the Sun & Trilix
East of the Sun and west of 2nd Avenue SteepleChase Records
Rich Perry is that rarest of tenor saxophonistsa complete musician with an understanding of space and timing, a palpable sense of color and humor and absolutely no need to showboat or compromise. Whether he's a featured soloist in a big band or leading a quartet date (as heard here), he makes jazz that's adventurous and highly listenable with a smart and sympathetic band playing standards not frequently performed and in new ways of playing in the tradition.
Listen, for example, to the approach to Ray Noble's "The Touch of Your Lips . Through an almost rubato statement of the theme and then into some elaborate improvisation, Perry plays both the tune and its changes in his soloing, giving it a different and new life. It's almost impressionisticthe melody is more hinted at and around, than played right out.
Perry takes on music by Jimmy Van Heusen, Harold Arlen and Harry Ruby from the world of popular song and tackles some intriguing and rarely essayed jazz tunes from Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes to Thad Jones' "Yours and Mine and the very rare "Falling Love by Victor Feldman. He has also chosen wisely in his bandmates, seasoned veterans who don't sound as if they played every tune a million times before. Listen to what this great group does with "My Shining Hour it's up-tempo and engaging because we have to listen to find what the leader and the company he keeps do with the melody. All the tunes are played as if they were new and never improvised on before and that makes for the best kind of jazz.
Trilix SteepleChase Records
When a piano trioor any jazz group, for that matteris at the top of its game, all of the qualities that make its individual members shine come to the fore but also work in the service of both the tunes and the larger aesthetic of the group. Harold Danko (piano), Michael Formanek (bass) and Jeff Hirshfield (drums) make a vitally engaging, intelligent and musical trio album. Each member makes terrific solo statements, even though you can hear them at their best while they collectively work on the tunes and arrangements. This is a working and playing band. Danko, a thoughtful and lyrical player, knows not how to pick out-of-the-ordinary themes but best utilizes his cohorts to create that something extra.
The pianist found the Latin word "trilix meaning having three threadsand thinks it best to decribe how this trio works. Trust and interplay are essential to the sound here as is the absolutely great thought in selecting the repertoire and finding a new way to improvise in and on it. Pianists and their compositions are showcaseda tune by each Freddie Redd, Chick Corea, Bobby Timmons, Thelonious Monk, Duke Jordan, Billy Strayhorn and Richie Beirachplus the band works magic on Tony Williams' "Pee Wee and the standard "I Wished on the Moon .
The arrangements are special and reflect how the three players spontaneously create them. Their spin on Jordan's "Flight to Jordan is a perfect example of how something new can come out of something familiar. The group found what Danko calls "a little groove for the melody based on something that the pianist heard on a recording by the composer. They turn the tune into something fresh, almost reflecting a Middle-Eastern sensibility combined with a bluesy touch. It's quiet, smart and beautiful.
Tracks and Personnel
East of the Sun and west of 2nd Avenue
01 I Thought About You Van Heusen, Jimmy Perry, Rich 6,43; 02 The Touch Of Your Lips Noble, Ray Perry, Rich 6,31; 03 My Ideal Whiting/Chase Perry, Rich 7,58; 04 East Of The Sun Bowman, Brooks Perry, Rich 7,06; 05 Soul Eyes Waldron, Mal Perry, Rich 7,57; 06 Yours And Mine Jones, Thad Perry, Rich 5,50; 07 My Shining Hour Arlen, Harry Perry, Rich 6,29; 08 Falling In Love Feldman, Victor Perry, Rich 6,37; 09 Three Little Words Ruby, Harry/Kalmar, Burt Perry, Rich 6,33
Harold Danko (piano); John Hebert (bass); Jeff Hirshfield (drums); Rich Perry (tenor sax);
01 Flight To Jordan Jordan, Duke Danko, Harold 6,03; 02 Pee Wee Williams, Tony Danko, Harold 4,23; 03 Elm Beirach, Richie Danko, Harold 7,41; 04 I Wished On The Moon Rainger, Ralph Danko, Harold 9,13; 05 Bloodcount Strayhorn, Billy Danko, Harold 6,40; 06 Monk's Dream Monk, Thelonious Danko, Harold 4,25; 07 What Was Corea, Chick Danko, Harold 7,48; 08 Damned If I Know Timmons, Bobby Danko, Harold 6,12; 09 Sister Salvation Redd, Freddie Danko, Harold 5,21
Harold Danko (piano); Michael Formanek (bass); Jeff Hirshfield (drums);