Consider the gazillion jazz piano trio recordings available to the unsuspecting public and the time and effort it takes to breakthrough as a major pianist/composer. My first listen to the debut recording by this Bostonian (by way of Israel) made me think very much of the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio per the intensity and interaction of the three players. So, my first impression was dazzlement by the playing and compositions of Barkan and Company.
I crept up to my changer for a second, more objective, analysis. Barkan wrote all but four of the eleven tunes here, and what's even more impressive is that the four well-chosen standards/jazz standards are at the same level as his own compositions. This is neither minimalist, commercial, nor avant-garde piano jazz. While the respective melodies are attractive lines, the performances demand your attention. The opening tune, "Paul's Groove," is typical, with a swinging trio presentation. It's easy to become mesmerized by Barkan's technique and his interaction with Dan Greenspan's bass and Harvey Wirht's drums. Other noteworthy tunes include "Amaravati Davi is Getting Married" (which refers to his mother), the lilting "Brazilian Suite #2" and the closing ballad "This is Love."
In choosing two modern jazz standards — Herbie Hancock's "Dolphin Dance" and Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby" — Barkan doesn't so much channel either of these two modal piano giants as offer fresh and articulate versions of their compositions. "All My Tomorrows," the Sinatra classic written by Jimmy Van Heusen for the film The Joker is Wild, also shows Barkan's sensitivity for the Great American Songbook. Juan Tizol's "Caravan" would not normally seem to belong in this collection. However, Barkan takes the old warhorse out for a polyrhythmic ride in spirited conversations with Greenspan and Wirht.
Based upon first and second impressions, I'm placing this recording amongst some pretty significant trio recordings, like the early Bill Evans Trio, early '60s Denny Zeitlin, and perhaps the emergence of Brad Mehldau in the last decade. Gilad Barkan is also a member of the Boston-based Issi Rozen Quartet and that Wirht is the drummer for the Either/Orchestra, a long-standing musical aggregation.
'Scuse me while I play this one again!
Track Listing: Paul's Groove, Brazilian Suite #2, Modulation, All My Tomorrows, Affection, Amaravati Devi is Getting Married, Dolphin Dance, Waltz for Debbvy, Carnaval, Caravan, This is Love.
Personnel: Gilad Barkan, piano; Dan Greenspan, bass; Harvey Wirht, drums.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.