Pianist Randy Ingram
is an unabashed romantic and through Sky/Lift
communicates all of the optimism, love of life and the sheer joy of making music for everyone to experience.
Ingram does not hide his roots in the music of Bill Evans, but what he takes from the past master is more of an aesthetic and a musical lushness than, say, particular chord voicings, even in the Evans tune "Time Remembered."
His piano playing virtually sings the long-limbed lines of his compositions, which spin out, building and climbing, until they rain down and refresh the ear. The "tunes" might not immediately be remembered, since they take their time in rolling out varying phrase lengths, using many large intervals.
Everything about Ingram's music is completely self- assured and big, creating extended aural landscapes that envelop and excite, soothe and invigorate.
Ingram's well-known New York band members, guitarist Mike Moreno
, bassist Matt Clohesy
and drummer Jochen Rueckert
are completely in touch with what Ingram wishes to express. They support, push and pull Ingram in telling the particular story of the tune at hand.
While Clohesy and Rueckert are superb, Moreno must be singled out for special attention. A guitarist of supreme technical skills, he always places the music first. On the tracks on which he plays, Moreno seems to be psychically connected to Ingram. Although their music is quite different in the details, the music Ingram and Moreno make strongly evokes Bill Evans and Jim Hall. While Undercurrent
(United Artists, 1962) is much more intimate and subdued, the level of communication that Ingram and Moreno achieve is that of the earlier masters.
The opening title tune "Sky/Lift" sets the mood, imagery and broadness of sound stage for everything which follows. All of the tracks, including the surprising country- rock "Nicky" (for pianist Nicky Hopkins) have something special to offer, but the core of Ingram's, and the band's music can be found in "99" and the above mentioned "Time Remembered."
"99," which at twelve minutes long is the album's longest track, begins slowly, repeating its wide open theme a few times before the curtains part for a truly wonderful Moreno solo. The music slowly builds on what is essentially a static, but circularly shifting tonal ground, adding layers of emotion and intensity that is quite thrilling to hear.
These troubling times need optimism and hope, both of which are provided in abundance by Ingram and the band.