All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Multiple Reviews

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

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

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 Lee Michaels: Dinosaurs Still Rule! Multiple Reviews
Lee Michaels: Dinosaurs Still Rule!
by Doug Collette
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Seth Yacovone Band and Radio Underground: Rockin' the Green Mountains Multiple Reviews
Seth Yacovone Band and Radio Underground: Rockin' the...
by Doug Collette
Published: November 17, 2018
Read Jazz is Mod: An Introduction to the Mod Jazz Series Multiple Reviews
Jazz is Mod: An Introduction to the Mod Jazz Series
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Scott Sharrard & Jack Pearson: Brothers by Proxy Multiple Reviews
Scott Sharrard & Jack Pearson: Brothers by Proxy
by Doug Collette
Published: November 3, 2018
Read All Over the Map with Losen Records Multiple Reviews
All Over the Map with Losen Records
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 2, 2018
Read John Lennon's Imagine: The Ultimate Collection & Imagine/Gimme Some Truth Films Multiple Reviews
John Lennon's Imagine: The Ultimate Collection &...
by John Kelman
Published: October 28, 2018
Read "Nouveau Fusion: Superette And Visitors" Multiple Reviews Nouveau Fusion: Superette And Visitors
by Doug Collette
Published: September 8, 2018
Read "Jazz is Mod: An Introduction to the Mod Jazz Series" Multiple Reviews Jazz is Mod: An Introduction to the Mod Jazz Series
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 16, 2018
Read "Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa" Multiple Reviews Solo: Reflections and Meditations on Monk & Najwa
by Doug Collette
Published: December 23, 2017
Read "A Selection of Jazz on Sonorama" Multiple Reviews A Selection of Jazz on Sonorama
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: March 18, 2018
Read "Joao Barradas: A New Place For The Accordion In Jazz?" Multiple Reviews Joao Barradas: A New Place For The Accordion In Jazz?
by Chris Mosey
Published: February 2, 2018