Louis Durra: The Best of Both Possible Worlds (2012)
Versatile pianist Louis Durra is no stranger to genre bending experiments. His resume as a recording artist includes sessions with church choirs and musical casts, as well as Christmas discs and those with his more mainstream jazz trio. On The Best of Both Possible Worlds, he interprets eight popular tunes ranging from light rock to reggae, in addition to two originals that seamlessly blend in with the album's overall concept.
Drummer Jerry Kalaf showcases his classical influences on his contribution, the mellifluous dance "Ersatz Waltz," enhancing the mood with his brush work, while bassist Larry Steen demonstrates his lyrical side on the acoustic version of his instrument. Complementing this piece is the trio's take on Radiohead's "No Surprises." Durra's sonata like pianism, Kalaf's shuffling percussion and Steen's rock solid lines build gorgeous harmonic flourishes.
The jazziest track is Durra's own "The Back Seat." Its cool tone and deceptively simple melody highlight the sublime camaraderie and the musical interplay among the group. Durra's relatively lengthy improvisations are repeated on a tighter reading of Bob Marley's classic, "No Woman No Cry."
Durra embellishes the melody of Bob Dylan's "Tangled Up In Blue," with its bluesy hints backed By Kalaf's hyper-rhythmic drums and Steen's deep, earthy, electric groove. The group's take on Feist's fluffy and sweet "1234" maintains the upbeat theme, creating a sugary lounge feel, with Durra's occasional spontaneity keeping the music tethered to jazz. In contrast, Tears for Fears' "Mad World" sounds like early Ahmad Jamal, thanks to Durra's deft utilization of silent pauses and lilting notes, and Steen's melodic bowed bass.
Certainly neither for hardcore fans nor purists this, nevertheless, engaging record that closes with DJ Rob Swift punctuating solos with rubs and scratches, is a good introductory portal to jazz from the world of more crowd-pleasing music.
Track Listing: Tangled Up In Blue; Ersatz Waltz; The Bends; After Bends; Mad World; The Back Seat; No Surprises; 1234; After 1234; Code Monkey; No Woman, No Cry; All I Really Want (feat. DJ Rob Swift); After DJ.
Personnel: Louis Durra: piano; Jerry Kalaf: drums; Larry Steen: bass; DJ Rob Swift: turntable, voice.
Record Label: Self Produced