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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Cunliffe Trio: River Edge, New Jersey

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River Edge, New Jersey is like a trip down memory lane for pianist Bill Cunliffe. The California-based ivory tickler looks back to his days as an East Coast resident, teaming up with two highly capable, once-upon-a-time colleagues--bassist Martin Wind and drummer Tim Horner--who call New Jersey home. He further taps into the nostalgia well by visiting songs from his youth (Harry Nilsson's “One") and material expressly written in honor of those who have had a strong impact on him over the years. All of the topics at hand were essentially born of the past in some way, shape or form, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Cunliffe: That Time of Year

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Pianist Bill Cunliffe harkens back to his youth in That Time of Year, recording solos on Christmas songs that he says he fondly remembers. This talented, versatile performer is also an esteemed composer-arranger, having been nominated for Grammy awards three times, winning in 2010 for Best Instrumental Arrangement. A Southern Californian, he currently teaches at California State University, Fullerton, playing local gigs and recording extensively. The 14 songs range from the pious simplicity of “Angels from the Realms of Glory" and “Silent Night" and a partying, funky version of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," to his nostalgic, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Cunliffe: That Time of Year

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There's always the danger of getting all schmaltzy with Christmas music, but jazz people are hipper than average and can usually come up with something appropriately cool to spin around holiday time. That's exactly what pianist/composer Bill Cunliffe has done with That Time of Year.Cunliffe is a versatile artist who is comfortable in any size ensemble--from his Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2 (Resonance Records, 2008) to his Grammy-winning arrangement on Resonance Big Band's Plays Tribute to Oscar Peterson (Resonance, 2009)--but the Christmas mood finds him going it alone, showcasing his considerable piano chops on a set ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Cunliffe: That Time of Year

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West Coast pianist Bill Cunliffe has released a most welcome holiday disc in That Time of Year. With Christmas coming commercially before Halloween in bigger and more brazen waves each year, having the music of the season reduced to its sheer elements by a well-versed master is refreshing, if not spiritually reviving. Cunliffe's pianism is urbane and lyrical, perfectly suited for interpreting a well- worn and loved repertoire. Cunliffe has previously demonstrated his knack for freshly focused concepts for old songs on Bill Plays Bud (Naxos, 1998) and The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2 (Resonance, 2008). He transfers ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Bill Cunliffe: The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2

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Bill Cunliffe The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2 Resonance Records 2008Oliver Nelson (1932-1975) was a saxophonist, arranger, and composer who seemed everywhere in the 1960s. In popular culture, Nelson is best remembered for his television scoring for shows including Ironside, Night Gallery, Columbo, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman and Longstreet. In jazz culture, Nelson is remembered for his masterpiece The Blues And The Abstract Truth (Impulse!, 1961).

The Blues And The Abstract Truth boasted a superstars-in-the-1960s lineup that included pianist Bill Evans, bassist Paul Chambers, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Cunliffe: Imaginacion

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Grammy-nominated pianist Bill Cunliffe loves a good melody. He's recorded a couple of sets of Reed Kotler's beautifully lyrical tunes, most recently Tomo (Torii, '05). With his latest offering, Imaginacion, the pianist/arranger wraps some melodies--his own and a few classics--in a strong Latin vibe.The expanded lineup, featuring two trombones, two trumpets, and a reed player, plus piano and bass, along with three percussionists, offers more harmonic possiblities, and Cunliffe has a genius in this arena, crafting lush washes of sound over the percolating percussion.Five of the tunes here are Cunliffe originals, and the covers are well-chosen: ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bill Cunliffe: Tomo

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Tomo is the second album on Torri honoring composer Reed Kotler, following last year's release of It's About Love by pianist/arranger Bill Cunliffe. Though little known outside San Francisco, Kotler is a modern composer who seems to have struck an appreciative chord with the Los Angeles-based Cunliffe.

As with It's About Love, the music on Tomo is gentle and relaxing. Offering a handsome set of twelve tunes, the group of saxophonist Bob Sheppard, guitarist Larry Koonse, pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Darek Oles, and drummer Mark Ferber evoke the softer sides of jazz, though always mindful of a jovial beat. The ...



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