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Marc Copland: New York Trio Recordings Vol. 1: Modinha

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Something that all the great pianists have in common is a mystical understanding of when to drop their fingers to the keys, a perfect consciousness of when to enter and when to exit. If the fingers always fall at precisely the right time, to some extent the actual notes don't even matter. It all swings too hard for anybody to care. Within the first bars of the first track, "Half a Finger Snap, it becomes apparent that Marc Copland is among those pianists whose time feel is, indeed, just right. Dropping in after a few bars of bassist Gary Peacock's opening solo, Copland charges ahead, swinging full force.

"Flat Out is just as the title describes. A freely improvised piano solo from the get-go, it features the band doing nothing but communicating. Peacock and drummer Bill Stewart are expert rhythm section players to begin with and Copland's tendency to return to a similar chromatic harmonic pattern helps that process of anticipation necessary for a bass to do its job well. "Rain is based around a pedal played in unison between the piano and upper register bass, a timbre that is quite elegant and provides the listener with a hint of Copland's ability at part-writing.

"Slap Happy is a free improvised piece, featuring Peacock utilizing the bass as a purely percussive music box, minimal playing on behalf of Copland who adheres primarily to open chords, only sparsely throwing in a line here and there, and interesting stick work by Stewart. On "Sweet Peach Tree, Copland opens for a few choruses and gets down to some real bop material, pulling out lines reminiscent of Mulgrew Miller. Stewart is given a solo on this track, transitioning from a revamped street beat to the kind of motivic rhythmic call-and-response reminiscent of an African drum circle.

A highlight of the album is the standard "Yesterdays. Having one of the longest forms on the record as well as Peacock and Copland taking the time really to open up, a lot comes together on this tune. Over the head, Copland explores a device that could be referred to as harmonic motivic anticipation, playing a harmonic phrase and then repeating it a moment later when it finally settles in with the melody. Being only Volume One (Volume Two replaces Stewart with Motian), it will be interesting to see how far Copland can push his trio with the next release.

Track Listing: Half a Finger Snap; Modinha; Flat Out; Rain; Slap Happy; Sweet Peach Tree; Aglasia; Yesterdays; Taking a Chance On Love.

Personnel: Marc Copland: piano; Gary Peacock: bass; Bill Stewart: drums.

Title: New York Trio Recordings Vol. 1: Modinha | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Pirouet Records

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