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A New Face on Jazz. Sarah Jane Cion, the conservatory-trained (the New England Conservatory) phenomenon, was awarded First Place in the 1999 Great American Jazz Piano Competition in Jacksonville Florida. From there she found her way into the arms of Naxos Jazz, which has now produced her first recording as a leader, Moon Song. She is a well-schooled musician (teaching at Tufts) without being academic. Cion has previously recorded with Marian McPartland, Mike Stern, Antonio Hart and Herve Jeanne. On this disc, Cion spends most of her time on her own inventive compositions. Her piano style, wholly her own, contains traces of Toshiko Akioshi and Vince Guaraldi ("A Pond Beneath the Moon"), Herbie Hancock ("Samba Picara"), and Bud Powell ("Blues For Chick"). Cion listened well to those who came before her and forged from them a strong and unique voice. That voice is rhythmically developed and propulsive. Her playing is aggressive without being overtly so. She knows what effect she desires and achieves it with the greatest efficiency and grace.
Joining Cion is Saxophonist Chris Potter playing a virile tenor saxophone on "Moon Song" and a pensive soprano on "Suncycle". Bassist Phil Palombi and Drummer Billy Hart round out the piano trio, providing crisp and crystalline accompaniment. Cion allows the whole band to solo with Palombi smoking through the disc opener and Hart displaying his considerable chops all over the place. Balladmeister Fred Hersch used the word "powerful" to describe Sarah Jane Cion's playing. I think that sums up both her performance and compositional skills. This critic eagerly awaits the next Sarah Jane Cion offering.
Track Listing: A Pond Beneath The Moon; Last Cha Cha At Longbeach; Moon Song; Samba Picara; Waltz For Fall; Blues For Chick; Suncycle; How Long Has This Been Going On; Solo Piano Medley: I'll Keep Loving You; Ballad Of The Sad Young Men; What If. (Total Time: 55.23)
Personnel: Sarah Jane Cion: Piano; Phil Palombi: Bass; Billy Hart: Drums; Chris Potter: Tenor and Soprano Saxophones.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.