Marc Copland in Love
Pianist Marc Copland has previously released popular and well-received trio recordings in series, most recently New York Trio Recordings Vol. 1: Modinha (Pirouet, 2006), New York Trio Recordings Vol. 2: Voices (Pirouet, 2008) and New York Trio Recordings Vol. 3: Night Whispers (Pirouet, 2009). But he has an ensemble association with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Jochen Rueckert that has produced another impressive trio of recordings since the new millennium, if creative assembly is allowed for.
The two most recent of this new triptych Some Love Songs (2005) and Some More Love Songs (2012) for the German Pirouet label are a mixture of standard ballads and Copland originals. Add to these, the earlier released Haunted Heart (2010, originally released in 2001 as Haunted Heart and Other Ballads) on Hatology and we have a nice ballad collection by one of the generation of pianists successfully moving beyond the Bill Evans influence in jazz.
Marc Copland Trio
Haunted Heart was the beginning of a selective distillation of what pianist Brad Mehldau did with his Art of the TrioArt of the Trio series of the the late 1990s. This was Copland's first full- scale ballads exploration, a program as loosely conceived as trumpeter Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (Columbia, 1959), coming to gel within the pianist's vision and creative criticality. The empathy between Copland, bassist Drew Gress and drummer Jochen Ruchert is seamless and more completely realized than that heard in the great Bill Evans-Scott LaFaro-Paul Motian performances. John Kelman, in his earlier reviewof Haunted Heart upon its 2010 re- release, echoed the liner notes, observing that pianist Marc Copland uses three disparate and darkly stark performances of Rodgers and Hammerstein's "My Favorite Things" as the performance theme dividing two "minisets" of standard and original ballads that nominally orbit the planet John Coltrane.
Keeping with the "two miniset" motif, the whole of this disc could serve as a soundtrack of some post-apocalyptic noir story set in a dive bar buried in some nameless metropolis. The music is dark and air-conditioned cooled, smelling of unfiltered cigarettes and empty beer mugs. The opening theme of "My Favorite Things" is taken solo by Copland, who plays the piece delicately with well-placed Thelonious Monk dissonance. This performance is dark and skeletal in detail. The first miniset provides a stark treatment of Coltrane's "Crescent," a composition already scaled down by the composer from his more recent "sheets of sound." Copland turns the Coltrane-quasi- ballad into a full gale one, leading into Copland's own ethereal "Dark Territory." "Greensleeves," another Coltrane staple, is presented barely tethered to tempo and time. It is a Schumann miniture bent back on itself. The miniset closes with Sting's "When We Dance" from his 1994 recording of the same name. It gives the set and disc a contemporary character while maintaining the muted character of the whole.
The second "My Favorite Things" is slightly longer than the first and is more darkly dissonant. It is a further unravelling of the familiar melody into an anxious thought. Mal Waldron's sublime "Soul Eyes" is treated gently by Copland, who plumbs its depth for quiet inspiration. The Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So" joins Cole Porter's "Easy to Love" and the title piece in a whole-scale re- realization. "It Ain't Necessarily So" almost sounds like "Angel Eyes" while the upbeat "Easy to Love" and "Haunted Heart" push further beyond the impressionism of Evans and like pianists. The closing theme "My Favorite Things" is the most dissonant and angry of performances. Copland deconstructs the cheerful holiday melody, reassembling it as a troubled and troubling tune.
Some Love Songs