Pianist Ben Waltzer is a multimedia force to be reckoned with. In addition to recording and gigging with his trio, Waltzer also finds the time to pen articles for the New York Times and has appeared as the musical director for fashion designer Issac Mizrahi's show on the Oxygen television network. Impressively, with all of these extracurricular pursuits, his new album, One Hundred Dreams Ago, recorded with Gerald Cleaver on drums and Matt Penman on bass, is a highly satisfying affair that features both up-tempo swinging and reflective balladry.
Smeenus Smiles, composed by Waltzer, starts out with a lovely, lyrical piano introduction that recalls Bill Evans before it twists and turns, allowing for a murmuring solo by Penman, and culminates in a barrage of soulful chords from Waltzer. "I'm Through With Love receives a sensitive reading that acknowledges the resignation of the lyrics like a shrugged shoulder, yet it's also played delicately enough to admit that hope springs eternal. Penman's solo arrives like a good friend, sympathizing, but careful to advise that there are plenty of fish in the sea. Elsewhere, the band gets playful on the tumbledown melody of "Soundcheck Blues.
One Hundred Dreams Ago is a tasteful and sophisticated recording by a trio with a refined sense of interaction. Waltzer's own compositions hold up well even when placed alongside works by the likes of Ellington and Strayhorn. I'm curious to hear more from this trio.
Track Listing: Our Rhythm; Smeenus Smiles; Time And I; Hymn And The Blues Up High; U.M.M.G.; Soundcheck Blues; I'm Through With Love; The More I See You; One Hundred Dreams Ago
Personnel: Ben Waltzer-piano; Gerald Cleaver-drums; Matt Penman-bass
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy. So music and jazz specifically have been a part of me since I was born. I love and perform in all styles of music from around the world. Improvisation in jazz is what drew me in, and still does as well as other genres that feature improvisation. A group of great musicians expressing themselves as one is the hallmark of great jazz and in fact all great music.