Pianist Mick Rossi is an exemplar of the cross-fertilization between jazz and classical music worlds. While closely collaborating with Philip Glass
for the last ten years, he is also very active in the downtown New York City jazz scene. Songs From The Broken Land
is a much reworked, official release version of a project included in a previous All About Jazz
review, Mick Rossi: Spontaneous Improvisation
. The pianist's efforts have created a much stronger work, one that is better integrated, while maintaining the smile-creating mix of humor, surprise, gorgeous sounds and virtuosity.
The 24 tracks of the 2006 original have been pared to 22, with five new improvisations added. The organization of the project remains the same, as six prepared piano variations of "My Old Kentucky Home" form the recording's backbone.
The tracks range in length from over nine minutes ("Solfegietto," by Johnny Valentino) to under a minute ("Ghost Girl" and "Critical Mass"), and in intensity from the relentlessly pressing, twisting and turning of "Lockdown" to the floating impressionism of "Broken Land" and "Sans Jour."
Rossi's stated intention of the original session was to approach the piano with as little mental and even physical preparation as possible (except for using "Old Kentucky Home" and "Solfegietto"), and to just record the mind-body connection of the moment. What cannot be ascertained is how much, if any, planning went into the prepared piano.
Rossi's persona comes through loud and clear in the music's virtuosity, intensity and humor. What is fascinating is how each piece combines the quite audible feeling of spontaneous composition, with little that passes for normal structure and tension-release, but with an assuredness and logic that feel inevitable, despite the almost constant surprises.
As the record progresses, each track adds to the impression that a master improviser is at work, bringing his entire life's musical and personal experience to bear to produce music that is quite deep but very accessible, and which creates an identifiable musical world.
Personnel: Mick Rossi: piano, prepared piano.