The title of Erik Deutsch's Demonio Teclado means "Keyboard Demon"and indeed he is. Raised in Washington, DC and Nashville, Deutsch spent ten years in Colorado honing his craft, receiving a degree from the University of Colorado in piano performance, plus studying and playing with pianist Art Lande and gigging with trumpeter Ron Miles. In the mid-2000s Deutsch moved to New York and jumped into the New Brooklyn Jazz scene; he also started working with a wide variety of musicians such as singer-songwriters Norah Jones and Roseanne Cash, and most notably spent three years in guitarist Charlie Hunter's band. A talented member of the new generation of jazz musicians, Deutsch's star just keeps shining brighter with each project.
Deutsch characterizes the music on Demonio Teclado as psychedelic soul-jazz, and the description is apt: the songs are full of absorbing grooves overlaid with appealing electronic voicings. Seven of the nine songs are Deutsch originals, and the keyboardist proves himself an inventive composer with a fine ear for melody. "Funky Digits" is an exuberant tune with a tight, energetic arrangement, including a down-and-dirty solo from trumpeter Jon Gray, who provides a hefty dose of soul throughout the CD. "Future Burger" has a joyful, super-funky groove that showcases the talents of guitarist Brandon Seabrook, while "DDT" is a full-bodied song with a deep droning groove, woven throughout with wild and woolly electronic excursions.
Deutsch takes it slower on the enjoyably ominous "Creeper," and displays a more romantic side on the wistful "Ms. Pelican" and beautifully spacious "Lover's Eyes." For his two covers, Deutsch takes a pass on the Great American Songbook: Ike Turner's "Getting Nasty" is bright, gritty, and swinging, with Glenn Taylor's steel guitar solo full of nicely bending notes; and Neil Young's "Don't Let It Bring You Down" is simply gorgeous, a heart-first dive by Deutsch into the haunting melody line.
In his autobiography, the great pianist Oscar Peterson declared, "Young players need not feel confined by conventional soundsnor do they need to abandon them entirely: the scope for creative merging is enormous, and new and different dimensions to music beckon." Deutsch has clearly heeded this call, and his psychedelic soul-jazz is a welcome expansion. Yet this is just one color on Deutsch's extensive palette: with such striking talent and wide-ranging experience, his next step is bound to be worth hearing.
Getting Nasty; Funky Digits; Creeper; DDT; Sleep Talkin’; Don’t Let It Bring You Down; Lover’s Eyes, Future Burger; Ms. Pelican.
Erik Deutsch: keys; Tony Mason: drums; Glenn Taylor: steel guitar; Brandon Seabrook: guitar; Jon Gray: trumpet; Ben Rubin: bass (3-5, 6, 8); Jeff Hill: bass (1, 2, 7, 9); Jens: tambourine (1).
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