I hope Astrid Cowan will forgive me for saying she plays piano like a man. The truth is, she does, employing a percussive, two–fisted approach that reminds one of McCoy Tyner, the late Gene Harris, Benny Green and other fiery, blues–based modernists. Not much is said on Swing Team about her background, only that she was born in Detroit, studied for some time in San Francisco and now lives in the Los Angeles area. What one can further deduce, besides the fact that she is an uncommonly gifted player who can swing hard at any tempo, is that she’s an ...read more
This is a moderately pleasant hour or so of easygoing small–group Jazz, but those are shark–infested waters into which pianist Astrid Cowan and her colleagues are diving, and I doubt that pleasant is enough to ensure their survival. Truth is, Summit doesn’t swing nearly as hard or as often as Cowan’s earlier release, Swing Team (Astron 98–001), and she was much better served by that album’s frequently accelerated tempos. While Cowan plays well throughout, the music, as we said, is more pleasant than propulsive. It’s also quite pretty, especially Cowan’s two originals, “Lullaby” and “Beach Comber’s Bounce,” Frank Rosolino’s “Blue ...read more
What we know for certain is that Astrid Cowan was born in Detroit, studied piano for some time in San Francisco, now lives in the Los Angeles area, and is an accomplished mainstream player whose virile two–handed technique and propensity to swing at any speed are remindful of McCoy Tyner, Gene Harris and other modernists from Monty Alexander to James Williams. We know too that Cowan is a perceptive writer, as she shows with her three sparkling compositions on Swing Team — “Thursday Night at Pasquales,” “Salida del Sol” and “Silver’s Sox.” The rest of the material on Cowan’s admirable ...read more
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