All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Multiple Reviews

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

544

Marilyn Lerner: Arms Spread Wide & Ugly Beauties

Andrey Henkin By

Sign in to view read count








Marilyn Lerner/Ken Filiano/Lou Grassi

Arms Spread Wide

No Business

2009


Marilyn Lerner/Matt Brubeck/Nick Fraser

Ugly Beauties

Actuelle

2009


A quick perusal of Canadian pianist Marilyn Lerner's website presents a musician whose projects are both typically and atypically diverse. Usually range demonstrates itself in working with a large pool of other musicians; Lerner certainly has that, whether it is with the long-standing Queen Mab to the two trios under discussion here. But she also cuts a wide swathe stylistically. Her website discography is split amongst Improvisation, Jazz, Classical, Jewish Music and Audio Art. None of these are affectations; her playing in any context is sincere and persuasive.

Arms Spread Wide is a new trio with the New York rhythm section of bassist Ken Filiano and drummer Lou Grassi. All the music is freely improvised or perhaps, to borrow a term frequently over- and misused, spontaneously composed. The piano trio may be the most basic of all jazz ensembles, the most accessible in terms of melody, rhythm and harmony. But this straightforwardness belies the freedom such a simple format allows its component musicians. Is the piano a percussion instrument? Does the bass propel the melody? How do the drums color the proceedings? In the right hands (and two feet) the entire history of the art form known as jazz (a far more liberating appellation than the more popular 'creative improvised music') can be included, from Monk and Evans to Taylor and Bley. That this trio chooses to work in discrete tracks, ten in all with one specifically inspired by Coco Schulmann (a Jewish-German jazz guitarist who survived the Nazis), shows they are being methodical in their approach: don't try to do everything at once and you'll be sure not to forget anything.

The trio Ugly Beauties is obviously a Monk tribute band, right? Well, yes and no. When this reviewer saw the band at last summer's Vancouver International Jazz Festival, they did play a couple of his pieces. But for their eponymous debut recording, there are none, the music coming from the pen of each member or as duo or trio collaborations. And even Monk would be somewhat taken aback at the European-style openness of the playing though he would appreciate the brevity of the 15 tracks (55 minutes in total, with only one tune hefty at nine minutes). Fellow Canadians Matt Brubeck (cello) and Nick Fraser (drums) are the other two sides of the equilateral triangle and both have a breadth to their resumés that equals Lerner's. Thus Ugly Beauties may be a jazz record but one that is quite brash in revealing the layers of other musics integral to jazz' vitality. The spirit of Monk is far better served by a group that uses his individuality as inspiration rather than retreads his music for the 1000th time, though Ugly Beauties probably would do it better than most.

Tracks and Personnel



Arms Spread Wide

Tracks: Wild Analysis; Nightwings; The Eternal Present; The Dance Within The Game; Skies Spin Round; Hommage a' Coco Schulmann; Samphire; World of Shades; Arms Spread Wide; Skitterbug.

Personnel: Marilyn Lerner: piano; Ken Filiano: bass; Lou Grassi: drums, percussion.



Ugly Beauties

Tracks: Windsor; Oubliette; Harold Lloyd; Minimalism; Faux Amis; Zoetrope; Wallflower; Ding an Sich; Be Done; Also; In a Hurry; Figure and Ground; Corde lisse; Tombé; Prémonition.

Personnel: Marilyn Lerner: piano; Matt Brubeck: cello; Nick Fraser: drums.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Arms Spread Wide

Arms Spread Wide

NoBusiness Records
2010

buy
 

See Saw

Music Network
2008

buy
 

Birds Are Returning

Jazz Focus Records
1997

buy
 

Miss Over Overboard

Les Disques Victo
1994

buy

Related Articles

Read Piano Trios: 3x3 Multiple Reviews
Piano Trios: 3x3
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 20, 2018
Read Iluso Records: DIY from two dreamers Multiple Reviews
Iluso Records: DIY from two dreamers
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 17, 2018
Read Iglooghost Takes Brave Step Forward With Electronic EPs Multiple Reviews
Iglooghost Takes Brave Step Forward With Electronic EPs
by John Bricker
Published: September 17, 2018
Read Nouveau Fusion: Superette And Visitors Multiple Reviews
Nouveau Fusion: Superette And Visitors
by Doug Collette
Published: September 8, 2018
Read Two on Umlaut Records with bassist Sébastien Beliah Multiple Reviews
Two on Umlaut Records with bassist Sébastien Beliah
by John Eyles
Published: August 28, 2018
Read Forward Into The Past Multiple Reviews
Forward Into The Past
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 19, 2018
Read "Two on Umlaut Records with bassist Sébastien Beliah" Multiple Reviews Two on Umlaut Records with bassist Sébastien Beliah
by John Eyles
Published: August 28, 2018
Read "Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic" Multiple Reviews Iain Matthews: Redefining Eclectic
by Doug Collette
Published: March 24, 2018
Read "A Selection of Jazz on Sonorama" Multiple Reviews A Selection of Jazz on Sonorama
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "Kasper Staub: Slow Music for Fast Times" Multiple Reviews Kasper Staub: Slow Music for Fast Times
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 13, 2018
Read "Brazilian Brilliance: Kassin and Domenico Lancellotti" Multiple Reviews Brazilian Brilliance: Kassin and Domenico Lancellotti
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: May 12, 2018
Read "The Art of the Duo: Keys and Reeds" Multiple Reviews The Art of the Duo: Keys and Reeds
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 11, 2018