36

Spike Wilner: La Tendresse

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Spike Wilner: La Tendresse There are few greater champions of the old and new in jazz than pianist/club owner/musical antiquarian Spike Wilner. His role in resuscitating and running one of the most important night spots for jazz in New York—Smalls Jazz Club—has made him a hero to those who frequent that bastion of musical integrity, but he's also revered as an ivory tickling keeper-of-the-flame for musical styles of yesteryear. Stride piano and ragtime are at the root of his playing, but he also mixes modern sensibilities into his work, demonstrating a one-foot-in-the-past and one-foot-in-the-present musical philosophy.

Wilner's work blankets the entire history of jazz piano, as he moves from parlor playing and rent party romping to supper club elegance to modern manifestations with ease, but he still sounds best when working through old gems and giving nods to piano giants of the past. "If I Only Had A Brain" has a dainty design at first, but eventually bears the mark of Wilner's hero—the cigar-smoking, derby-wearing Willie "The Lion" Smith.

Moving in a different direction, "Solace" struts along with New Orleans swagger, fusing Scott Joplin-esque tendencies with Jelly Roll Morton moves. Wilner goes on to channel Duke Ellington on the great man's "Le Sucrier Velours," but he's his own man when he tackles Thelonious Monk. He tips his hat to the High Priest of Bop on "Crepuscule With Nellie," but never resorts to flat-out imitation.

The title track gives Wilner a chance to move forward a few decades. Donning a modernist's attire, he makes some Herbie Hancock-meets-McCoy Tyner allusions, and works through a cyclonic section of music, but the majority of the program isn't as bold.

While this is a piano showcase from start to finish, Wilner's trio mates make their mark along the way. Bassist Dezron Douglas' woody tones give the music depth and direction, while drummer Joey Saylor finds the right tack to take with every tune. Wilner could carry the whole program on his own, but the rhythm section adds volumes to the music.

Wilner and pianist/label mate Ehud Asherie—who can also frequently be found performing at Smalls—have proven that "old" and "outmoded" are two very different things. Both men have made their mark by putting their chops and knowledge of early twentieth century piano stylings to good use on their respective dates for Posi-Tone. Now, it's high time for them to get together for a two-piano date, whether cutting contest or collaborative affair. Wouldn't that be something!?!

Track Listing: La Tendresse; If I Only Had A Brain; Solace; Silver Cord; Always; Lullaby Of The Leaves; After You've Gone; Le Sucrier Velours; Little Girl Blue; Crepuscule With Nellie; I'm So Glad We Had This Time Together; Happy Ending.

Personnel: Spike Wilner: piano; Dezron Douglas: bass; Joey Saylor: drums.

Title: La Tendresse | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Company I Keep CD/LP/Track Review The Company I Keep
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ma De Re Sha CD/LP/Track Review Ma De Re Sha
by Geno Thackara
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Ask Seek Knock CD/LP/Track Review Ask Seek Knock
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Air and Light and Time and Space CD/LP/Track Review Air and Light and Time and Space
by John Eyles
Published: June 28, 2017
Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read "Rumbler" CD/LP/Track Review Rumbler
by Paul Rauch
Published: January 2, 2017
Read "Aerial" CD/LP/Track Review Aerial
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 3, 2017
Read "The Duke Box 2" CD/LP/Track Review The Duke Box 2
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "Avalon" CD/LP/Track Review Avalon
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 9, 2017
Read "Genesis" CD/LP/Track Review Genesis
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 4, 2016
Read "Backlog" CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by Mark F. Turner
Published: February 24, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.