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Dave Meder: Passage

Mike Jurkovic By

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"Philosophically, what I'm after is the lofty goal of being able to play everything," says 28-year-old pianist David Meder of his ambitions and crowd-sourced debut, Passage. Like he says, that's pretty lofty, if not downright cocky. But what is jazz, let alone any artistic endeavor, if not an equal mix of both, and the chops to pull it off? Upon repeated listenings of Passage, Meder is well on his way.

A semifinalist in the 2018 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Piano Competition, and the American Pianists Award, Meder was recently assigned as Assistant Professor of Jazz Piano at the prestigious University of North Texas. That's all nice and fine and a definite career fallback position, but Meder's distinctly Americana approach to his music is what's going to turn heads.

A case in point is the pleasingly laconic pace of Thelonious Monk's "Work" which serves to open Passage on a delightfully high note. Drummer Kush Abadey—who, although only in his twenties, has already played alongside Ravi Coltrane, Nicholas Payton, Terrance Blanchard and the late Tomasz Stanko, to name just a few—skip-hops along as playfully as Meder. Meder's ingenious R'n'B romp through the gospel chestnut "The Rugged Old Cross" is simply worth the price of admission alone. Original compositions—"This Road," a knotty give-and-take duet with alto saxophonist Miguel Zenon, and "Elegy," a reflective trio effort with bassist Marty Jaffe and the anthemic tenor of Chris Potter—bring all of Meder's still-evolving strengths as a writer and arranger to the fore.

Other cohesive tunes like "Break Points" and the meditative title track, find Meder, like his spiritual touchstone Jaki Byard, inventing his music freely, bringing honky-tonk, swing, blues, rock-and-roll—in other words a vibrant hybrid of the whole American spectrum—to bear, making for a sparkling debut full of exciting promise.

Track Listing: Work; For Wayne; The Old Rugged Cross; This Road; Break Points; Golden Hour; Passage; Healing Heart; Elegy; For You, For Me, For Evermore.

Personnel: David Meder: piano; Kush Abadey: drums; Tamir Shmerling: bass (#1-8, 10); Marty Jaffe: bass (#9); Miguel Zenon: alto saxophone (#4); Chris Potter: tenor saxophone (#9).

Title: Passage | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Outside In Music

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