Pianist Richard Grossman passed away in 1992 and unfortunately never received the widespread recognition attributed to many of his peers in modern jazz. Released in 1998 on the Swiss based “Hatology” label, Even Your Ears provides excellent insight into the mind and potent attack of Grossman’s modernist approach to jazz piano and improvisation.
The opener and solo piano performance, “Fresh Vegetables” represents Grossman’s unique left-hand right-hand coordination while conveying the perception or impression of two pianists performing alternating themes. Here, Grossman states his ideas in conversational clusters as his overall execution is piercing and quick-witted; hence, one can expect the unexpected. Grossman is the abstract painter on “Stickiest Day Of The Year” as he is joined by percussionist Alex Cline and bassist Ken Filiano. On this piece, Cline utilizes gongs, bells and cymbals in support of Grossman’s colorful yet enigmatic chord progressions and single note runs. Filiano’s arco-bass serves as the common ground or axis for the band as a sense of urgency develops, showcasing Grossman’s sagacity and articulate improvisational skills. “Tomorrow’s A National Holiday” is playful yet full of group dialogue and at times tempestuous. Grossman is the catalyst as Cline and Filiano work the perimeters of the composition, which enable Grossman to explore and elucidate his boundless creative juices.
In the CD liners writer Art Lange points out, “For most of his life, Grossman was a figure in the shadows of contemporary jazz, never receiving much public or critical recognition.” Even Your Ears serves as a posthumous illustration of how some artists receive their justifiable adulation or moments in the spotlight after they have passed on. These compositions were recorded live between 1990 and 1992 at venues in California. Thankfully, Swiss based Hatology records had the foresight along with a sense of obligation to exploit the true talents of a master technician and improviser. * * * * *
Richard Grossman; Piano: Ken Filiano; Doublebass: Alex Cline; Percussion
I love jazz because it is both challenging and exhilarating, and the endeavor of improvisation is the highest form of art.
I met so many great musicians--including my two earliest heroes, Maynard Ferguson and Dizzy Gillespie--by attending concerts
and being willing to treat them with the respect they deserve.
The best show I ever attended was the Pat Metheny/Ornette Coleman Song X concert at Cornell University.
The first jazz record I bought was an RCA compilation by Dizzy Gillespie.
My advice to new listeners is to not be afraid to listen to something because you're not familiar with the artists or the band or
the genre or anything - this is music that is best experienced through discovery.