137

Marius Nordal: Notoriety

By

Sign in to view read count
Marius Nordal: Notoriety Oscar Peterson used to advise his students not to be afraid of the piano. Somehow, I don’t think it was piano they feared.

Listening to Marius Nordal’s “Notoriety” can be just as intimidating. Nordal’s technical mastery of the piano is immediately apparent, and his arrangements---he’s worked primarily as a composer---are highly original. To echo the words of Count Basie, Nordal plays “a whole lot of piano,” and like all great music, the rewards are ultimately humbling, and greatly appreciated.

Amazingly, within nine songs Nordal brings to date virtually the entire history of jazz piano. Here is the stride of The Lion, the bebop of Bud, and the heavy groove of Miles—alongside numerous other influences in Nordal’s prolific musical vocabulary.

Three tunes are fine originals, yet Nordal is most notable when interpreting the standard jazz repertoire. In this arena, familiar melodies are a point of departure for the pianist’s organic inquiries, revealing fresh facets of tonal relationships, often overlooked by less accomplished musicians. This marriage of old and new exemplifies Nordal the composer, hip to the tradition, and respectful of its forms. Correspondingly, Nordal the player is unrestricted in his execution of musical ideas, be they bebop, swing, or stride. With intelligent fingers he unlatches windows of all euphonic shapes and sizes.

As a breathing exercise before the sprint begins, the intro to “Cherokee” is given its own cut on Notoriety. Played solo and up tempo, Nordal’s improvisational pyrotechnics set a firey pace. Joined by bass and drums, the tune officially begins with four infectious chords, evenly arpeggiated and balanced by eight bars of traditionally voiced changes. First-line Seattle musicians Doug Miller and John Bishop offer tasteful pizzicato lines and perfectly placed cymbal accents, respectively.

The engaging, rhythmic arrangements of Amhad Jamal naturally come to mind on Nordal’s version of “Billy Boy.” An unconventional introduction and conclusion are taken in blistering 7/4. Sandwiched between this decidedly Latin meter, Nordal barrels ahead in four, clearing melodic hurdles with tenacious chops.

However, the pianist’s tour de force is an extraordinary rendering of “Over the Rainbow.” In Nordal’s world, ruby slippers reharmonize into what seems like all twelve keys. Each modulation---gradual or fleeting---marks a stepping stone for melodic twists and twirls, at times reminiscent of Gershwin’s precocious variations on “Rhapsody in Blue.” Momentarily, the melody is clearly stated, swelling with each variation, gathering force, until the uninitiated listener is apt to feel like a crewmember on Columbus’ first voyage. No worries however, with Nordal leading the way “Rainbow” guarantees a cathartic and comprehensive journey.

“Notoriety” is Nordal’s initial recording as a pianist, released last year on Origin Records. A fledgling independent, headquartered in Seattle, Origin is unable to provide its musicians much in the way of full-scale national distribution and media exposure, however, modesty has its upside. Hidden beneath mega-corporate labels busy promoting twentysomething wunderkinds, are often real gems. Marius Nordal is a prime example. Luckily, diligent jazz fans, armed with the far reaching accessibility of the Internet, can now sample select musical vintages, and be first in line to taste the next highly anticipated Nordal release.


Click here for more information about Marius Nordal and his new release, “Notoriety”.


Title: Notoriety | Year Released: 1999


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Honey And Salt CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Corroto
Published: August 22, 2017
Read To the Bone CD/LP/Track Review To the Bone
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 22, 2017
Read Flesh & Bone CD/LP/Track Review Flesh & Bone
by Troy Collins
Published: August 22, 2017
Read Generations CD/LP/Track Review Generations
by Jerome Wilson
Published: August 22, 2017
Read 90 Going On Amazing CD/LP/Track Review 90 Going On Amazing
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 21, 2017
Read Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter CD/LP/Track Review Let There Be Life, Love and Laughter
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: August 21, 2017
Read "Blue Canvas" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Canvas
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 4, 2017
Read "Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works" CD/LP/Track Review Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Float The Edge" CD/LP/Track Review Float The Edge
by John Sharpe
Published: July 23, 2017
Read "Pathways" CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Dirt In The Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Dirt In The Ground
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Peace
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 18, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.