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ALBUM REVIEW

Michael Kocour: East Of The Sun

Read "East Of The Sun" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Here's another well-planned and immaculately recorded solo album by pianist Michael Kocour, his second such enterprise for OA2 Records (the first, Wherever You Go, There You Are, was released in 2015). As its title suggests, East of the Sun consists almost entirely of gems from the Great American Songbook with one zircon (guitarist Don Gibson's “I Can't Stop Loving You," a signature song for the late Ray Charles) thrown in at the end for a diverting change of pace.

ALBUM REVIEW

Michael Kocour: East Of The Sun

Read "East Of The Sun" reviewed by Mark Sullivan

Pianist Michael Kocour--a longtime member of the Chicago jazz community, now on the faculty of Arizona State University--presents his third solo piano album. His previous solo album Wherever You Go, There You Are (OA2 Records, 2015) was a mix of originals, jazz and popular standards, even including a few electric piano tracks. This one (which Kocour describes as “the most traditional" of his solo piano albums) is entirely devoted to standards, mostly from the 1920s and 1930s. The ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Michael Kocour: East Of The Sun

Read "East Of The Sun" reviewed by David A. Orthmann

Michael Kocour's solo piano recital is comprised of great American songs, most of which were popular in the early-to-mid twentieth century. There's nothing dated or anachronistic about the ways in which he handles the material. Throughout the record's ten tracks, Kocour establishes a state of equilibrium between a fealty to traditional song forms and jazz practices; a resourceful, imaginative streak; and a great deal of facility on the instrument. While he often incorporates elements of early jazz piano styles, such ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Michael Kocour: East Of The Sun

Read "East Of The Sun" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

The ease of expression with which pianist Michael Kocour unspools standards tends to belie the greatness of his playing. With extreme comfort and control he lays out one beautiful performance after another, all the while presenting a fine balance between technical accomplishment and creative bent. East Of The Sun--the sixth leader (or co-leader) date from Kocour, and the third to offer a detailed look at his solo piano work--largely focuses on songs from the '20s and '30s. ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Michael Kocour: Spiffy

Read "Spiffy" reviewed by Jack Bowers

Spiffy is the third album as leader this year (2015) for pianist Michael Kocour who has chosen the occasion to set aside the piano in favor of a Hammond B3 organ. It proves to be an auspicious choice, as does his decision to work as part of a quartet. Kocour's sidemen (saxophonist Eric Schneider, guitarist Bruce Forman, drummer Dom Moio) are splendid, as is the leader's stout and nimble Hammond. The four had played together as a unit only once ...

ALBUM REVIEW

Michael Kocour: Spiffy

Read "Spiffy" reviewed by David A. Orthmann

Though a soulful swing-to-bop ethos reminiscent of the popular organ combos of the mid-to-late twentieth century is evident throughout, at its core Spiffy speaks to the malleability and open-endedness of the standard elements of jazz performance. Michael Kocour is the leader of the date, but the record's triumph is collective in nature. It's difficult to imagine substituting any member of the quartet--or, for that matter, isolating the solos from the tightly knit ensemble work. The band rejuvenates the classic Hammond ...

TAKE FIVE WITH...

Take Five with Michael Kocour

Read "Take Five with Michael Kocour" reviewed by Michael Kocour

Meet Michael Kocour: Michael Kocour is a jazz pianist, organist and composer. He also serves as Director of Jazz Studies in the School of Music at Arizona State University. Hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “one of the most sophisticated pianists in jazz," Kocour has performed at venues around the world and has been a guest on Marian McPartland's internationally syndicated NPR program Piano Jazz. Among the many artists and ensembles with whom he has appeared with are ...


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