Marc Copland: Some More Love Songs (2012)
Seven years and a handful of albums under his own name separate pianist Marc Copland's Some Love Songs (Pirouet, 2005) and this winning sequel session. Copland reconvened the same trio from the original datewith ever-busy bassist Drew Gress and on-the-rise drummer Jochen Rueckertand followed a similar programming formula, opening with a Joni Mitchell tune, closing with a Victor Young classic, giving a nod to Richard Rodgers along the way and hitting a trio of other songs that fit the thematic bill.
While love songs are the order of the day, this isn't a sedate, run-of the-mill run-through of the mellow variety. Copland seems to understand that love songs don't have to be sweet and slow in order to hit home, though he does occasionally address that topic here with style and class, and his trio mates understand that the power of the composition comes through in the conversation.
Copland, like fellow piano giants Fred Hersch and Kenny Werner, has an obvious affection for Mitchell's work that comes through in his interpretations. Here, he chooses the less-often performed "I Don't Know Where I Stand" to get the ball rolling with a gentle flow and sweep. The album picks up steam with a swinging take on "My Funny Valentine," which lacks the dark traces found in so many versions, and continues with Ron Carter's "Eighty One," which has Copland copping some Herbie Hancock-esque ideas and Rueckert nodding to Tony Williams, albeit in a featherweight fashion. Copland's lone original, "Rainbow's End," is the literal and emotional centerpiece of the album, as the melody comes to life with tandem work from Gress and the leader, but it's not the highpoint; that honor goes to "I Remember You," which shows off the balance that exists within this outfit.
While a great deal of Some More Love Songs's success surrounds Copland's ability to find a new harmonic, melodic or rhythmic wrinkle in old songs, this is truly a team effort. Gress, who is one of the few bassists around who can treat each project with a different conception of sound and substance, brings plush and pliant playing to bear throughout. His solo work often steals the show ("I Don't Know Where I Stand") and his fluency and fluid sense of rhythm allow this music to expand and contract with ease. Rueckert has many responsibilities here, as he creates bell curves of intensity in the music, provides aural shading, acts as the rhythmic catalyst that sparks conversations and sets the music aflame through back-and-forth solo banter with Copland ("My Funny Valentine").
These love songs are about more than their meaning. They're about the love that these men have for the music, the joy that they find in playing together and the beauty that exists in the act of creation. And, contrary to popular belief, sequels aren't always subservient to the originals. This music is second to none.
Track Listing: I Don't Know Where I Stand; My Funny Valentine; Eighty One; Rainbow's End; I've Got You Under My Skin; I Remember You; When I Fall In Love.
Personnel: Marc Copland: piano; Drew Gress: bass; Jochen Rueckert: drums.