by Dan Bilawsky
On the surface, Three Musicians is a smart collection of performances from a witty threesome, but closer observation reveals deep Cubist intent. In referencing one of Pablo Picasso's masterpieces, pianist Joan Stiles touches on a style of art that rarely finds an overt entrance into jazz, creating a layered, collage ideology within the very fabric of her work. The term mash-up" has become the phrase of choice in pop music circles to describe arrangements that weave two ...read more
by Elliott Simon
Back with her own unique take on the piano's place in jazz, the aptly named Joan mistress of many Stiles presents a session with myriad influences in a variety of formats with her sophomore effort, Hurly-Burly. Her first release, Love Call (ZoHo, 2004), was a breath of fresh air that more than hinted at clever arranging skills combined with an ability to interpret and present the classics" on her own terms. Hurly-Burly makes good on that promise and is evidence ...read more
by Michael P. Gladstone
Pianist, composer, bandleader and occasional vocalist Joan Stiles's terrific Hurly-Burly shows her skill at arranging, as well as being an ambitious tribute to her pianistic heroes. Here's hoping that it works this time, as her debut recording Love Calls (Zoho, 2004), which included a most impressive cast of Clark Terry, Frank Wess, Warren Vache, Benny Powell and Joe Temperley was held in the can for six years until Zoho finally released it.
Hurly-Burly's thematic concept is ...read more
by C. Michael Bailey
New York City pianist/vocalist Joan Stiles and Malibu pianist Lisa Hilton have something in common: their taste in men...musical sidemen, that is. Alto saxophonist Steve Wilson, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and drummer Lewis Nash show up amongst the sextet and quintet featured, respectively, on Stile's Hurly-Burly and Hilton's New York Sessions.
Despite their part-shared personnels, these recordings illustrate vastly different approaches to jazz composition, cover selection and performance. They also honor the musicianship of all involved, making the listening experience both ...read more
by Jochem van Dijk
A genre not too often reiterated: songbook rephrasings with a tightly arranged ensemble in various appearances. Although pianist and arranger Joan Stiles is by all means a fine and thoughtful player, it is in the underrated art of writing and conducting horn charts for small ensembles, that Love Call really shines. She makes expert use of either wide or narrow voicings both consonant and dissonant. With only a few players Stiles creates an old-style bigbandish thickness, or ...read more
by Dan McClenaghan
On Joan Stiles debut, Love Call, the pianist sometimes had me thinking of Erroll Garner, with a bright elan in her right hand flourishes; and sometimes she had me thinking of Thelonious Monk, with quirky chords and odd angles; but mostly she reminds me--as an arranger, not a player--of Ellington, penning her charts, masterfully, with the individual instrumentalists in mind, on this set of solo piano, piano trio, quartet, septet, octet and nonet renditions of familar songs.The disc ...read more
by Elliott Simon
Joan Stiles' solo piano artfully interprets a clever arrangement of Take the A Train" and perfectly portrays the full range of emotions inherent in Billy Strayhorn's final composition Blood Count." This is after leading an octet in which tenor giant Frank Wess and baritone man Joe Temperley cut loose on Clifford Brown's Daahoud." In addition, the pianist makes all stops in between on Love Call.
Stiles' song selection serves as a wonderful introduction to both her expressive touch, which evinces ...read more