Pianist Greg Burk embraces deconstruction and counterpoint as a player and composer, so a playful method to the madness runs through his excellent new album Berlin Bright. The opener, "Fancy Pants," exemplifies how Burk solos and writes with mild chaos in mind. After the theme the tune fractures schizophrenically, with Ignaz Dinne soaring melodically up front on alto while Burk plays a roiling counterpoint behind him. This startling, clever effect sounds like two open music sites on the Internet playing different kinds of music simultaneously; Burk drives the band by creating tension and complexity behind the soloists. On "Ugly Butterfly" and "Zoo for Two," for example, he restlessly explores and works off the melody with his left field chord progressions. Throughout the album he runs the same race as his band mates, but does so along a slightly different track.
Whether through a spry, pocket-sized waltz like "Tiny Tune" or the Coltrane-influenced "The Invisible Child," Burk and his quartet display an ability to play straight-ahead jazz with texture, cohesiveness and versatility. The driving rhythm of "Without Annette" has a Bad Plus kind of energy; the Delta blues highlights every pulse of Jonathan Robinson's splendid pizzicato on "Back Home" and his overall skills as a bassist are the foundation of his richly layered composition "Auslanderlied," which has the earmarks of a standard in the making. Berlin Bright shows that the Greg Burk Quartet isn't afraid to challenge the audience, or itself, with music that, although sometimes unpredictable, is never inaccessible and always stimulating.
Track Listing: Fancy Pants; The Invisible Child; Back Home; Zoo for Two; Ugly Butterfly; Without Annette; First Impression; Tiny Tune; Auslanderlied.
Personnel: Greg Burk: piano; Ignaz Dinne: alto and soprano saxophones; Jonathan Robinson: bass; Andrea Marcelli: drums.
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith
I've always loved jazz ...my mother was a classical pianist and my aunt was a blues singer, who was managed by Clarence Williams (Bessie Smith's producer). As a young boy, they introduced me to people like Louis Armstrong, Sarah Vaughan, and Jimmy Smith. We hung out at my Aunt Kate's Soul Food restaurant in Harlem after the matinees at the Apollo where I listened to their stories. I knew I wanted to be a jazz musician from then on. My mother wanted me to play piano, but my Aunt bought me a guitar. I've been playing ever since.
At my mother's early prompting, I first sang Blue Velvet at my Catholic elementary school...and all the nuns came running in and asked me to sing again, so I knew I must have sounded pretty good. I've been singing ever since.
I met Tony Bennett in Miami and he inspired me to return to New York. He was a great mentor.
The best show I ever attended is mpossible to say, I've seen so many great shows. From Tony Bennett to Pat Martino, Return to Forever to Weather Report...I've seen some great performances.
My advice to new listeners is don't let jazz intimidate you, the music has something for every listener and it is our American gift to the world.