164

David Leonhardt Trio: Bach to the Blues

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
David Leonhardt Trio: Bach to the Blues Pianist David Leonhardt's sideman credentials are impeccable, with ten years supporting the great jazz singer Jon Hendricks and twenty with Ray Charles' longstanding saxophonist, David "Fathead" Newman. Bach to the Blues, his twentieth album as a leader, may not radically alter his status as a respected but lesser known veteran, but the subtle pleasures it provides and its obvious classical/jazz crossover appeal should expose him to a wider, appreciative audience. The title is something of a misnomer, as most tracks are by classical composers other than Johann Sebastian Bach. Nevertheless, Leonhardt swells the ranks of jazz musicians from Django Reinhardt and Stefane Grappelli in the '30s, through Bud Powell and Max Roach to Jacques Loussier and Esbjorn Svensson, who have found a kindred spirit in a keyboard virtuoso and composer who died more than 250 ago. Bach was evidently, to paraphrase McCoy Tyner, a jazz cat.

"Prelude in G Major" shadows Bach's original composition, with Leonhardt playing melody and Bach's trademark counterpoint, gently supported by drummer Alvester Garnett and bassist Matthew Parrish. A shift in gear then propels the trio a couple of centuries forward as it follows a delightful 4/4 pattern which highlights the rhythm team's finesse. Garnett executes some nicely weighted rim shots, while there's a Bill Evans-esque balladic strain in Leonhardt's bluesy lines, which weave in and around Bach's melody. A not particularly subtle Brazilian break towards the end sounds somewhat odd in this context, but it is Bach who has the final say as the melody takes the trio home.

The trio works through a lovely, romantic interpretation of Debussy's "Claire de Lune." Schubert's "Ave Maria" is delicately reinterpreted, bass and brushes accompanying sympathetically, with Leonhardt adding nicely measured flourishes and embellishments of the main melody, like loving caresses. Satie's "Gymnopedie No 1" rounds off a triptych which again harkens back to Village Vanguard-era Evans at his most nostalgic. Thin on Bach thus far, perhaps, but a lovely blues vein emanates from Leonhardt's keys in these pieces.

Two Bach preludes serve as vehicles for extended piano improvisations around the skeletons of the melodies, underlining that time and little else separates Bach from Leonhardt. On the first, Garnett's brushes inhabit the piece to beautiful effect, while the second prelude develops into a walking blues featuring the equally impressive Parrish. Two Chopin compositions—Polish Mazurkas in G minor and C major—are also robed elegantly in the blues. An unrecognizable "Canon in D," by Pachelbel, has an impressionistic quality about it, and is given a stately, melancholic treatment with deep bass and rumbling toms adding to the piece's somber mood.

Leonhardt pays homage whilst creating his own space, and his tasteful embellishments of well-known themes sound like natural extensions of the composers' thoughts. This is a wonderful advertisement for music's universality, and another blow to the erectors of boundaries. It's also a fine testament to Leonhardt, a pianist of great finesse and an arranger of some imagination.


Track Listing: Prelude in G Major; Claire De Lune; Ave Maria; Gymnopedie No. 1; Prelude in A Minor; Adagio from Pathetique; Simple Gifts; Mazurka in G Minor; Prelude in Bb; Mazurka in C Major; Canon in D.

Personnel: David Leonhardt: piano; Matthew Parrish: bass; Alvester Garnett: drums.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Big Bang Records | Style: Classical


Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Kodama Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Kodama Trio
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 31, 2016
Read "You'll See" CD/LP/Track Review You'll See
by Chris Mosey
Published: June 27, 2016
Read "Left" CD/LP/Track Review Left
by John Sharpe
Published: November 22, 2016
Read "Cómo Desaparecer Completamente" CD/LP/Track Review Cómo Desaparecer Completamente
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 22, 2016
Read "Ears Are Filled With Wonder" CD/LP/Track Review Ears Are Filled With Wonder
by John Sharpe
Published: August 20, 2016
Read "Evolution - Seeds and Streams" CD/LP/Track Review Evolution - Seeds and Streams
by Phil Barnes
Published: December 19, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!