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Articles | Popular | Future

ALBUM REVIEWS

Bill Cunliffe: BACHanalia

Read "BACHanalia" reviewed by Jerome Wilson

This is another entry in the durable “jazz meets the classics" subgenre with pianist and bandleader Bill Cunliffe leading a large ensemble through a fun program featuring mostly classical works and familiar standards.The classical adaptations start off with Johann Sebastian Bach's “Sleepers Awake" played with crisp, muscular drive by the band. Cunliffe and trombonist Bob McChesney provide tight, intricate solos and Denise Donatelli follows the melody on top with a bubbly wordless vocal that recalls The Swingle Singers. ...

BIG BAND REPORT

Los Angeles Jazz Institute Festival "Big Band Spectacular" 2017, Part 2-4

Read "Los Angeles Jazz Institute Festival "Big Band Spectacular" 2017, Part 2-4" reviewed by Simon Pilbrow

Los Angeles Jazz Institute Festival Big Band Spectacular LAX Westin Hotel Los Angeles, CA May 24-28, 2017 Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 Jimmy Giuffre's classic, “Four Brothers," has been a much-loved anthem of the Woody Herman band since his Second Herd, and a great jazz landmark. Traditionally a saxophone tour-de-force, this performance was a recasting for big band of Brent's earlier clarinet choir arrangement ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Bill Cunliffe: BACHanalia

Read "BACHanalia" reviewed by Jack Bowers

As the title denotes, pianist Bill Cunliffe and his ensemble take a swing (literally) at the great Johann Sebastian on BACHanalia, pivoting as well toward the music of C.P.E. Bach, Sergei Prokofiev, Manuel de Falla, Cole Porter, Oscar Levant and Cunliffe himself. In spite of its classical veneer, this is at its core a jazz session, and as such embodies the essential elements one would expect from such an enterprise. To phrase it another way, Cunliffe transports these masters of ...

INTERVIEWS

Bill Cunliffe: A Day In the Life

Read "Bill Cunliffe: A Day In the Life" reviewed by Tish Oney

Grammy award-winning arranger and pianist Bill Cunliffe has been on the cutting edge of large ensemble arranging and jazz trio performance for the past few decades. An avid composer, performer, film scorer, educator and author of several jazz piano books (and online workshops), Cunliffe is focusing his creative output these days around a few select projects. His thorough exploration of several genres and his delivery of relevance in his work throughout his career reveal an inquisitive artist capable of appreciating ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Bill Cunliffe Trio: River Edge, New Jersey

Read "River Edge, New Jersey" reviewed by Dan Bilawsky

River Edge, New Jersey is like a trip down memory lane for pianist Bill Cunliffe. The California-based ivory tickler looks back to his days as an East Coast resident, teaming up with two highly capable, once-upon-a-time colleagues--bassist Martin Wind and drummer Tim Horner--who call New Jersey home. He further taps into the nostalgia well by visiting songs from his youth (Harry Nilsson's “One") and material expressly written in honor of those who have had a strong impact on him over ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Bill Cunliffe: That Time of Year

Read "That Time of Year" reviewed by Larry Taylor

Pianist Bill Cunliffe harkens back to his youth in That Time of Year, recording solos on Christmas songs that he says he fondly remembers. This talented, versatile performer is also an esteemed composer-arranger, having been nominated for Grammy awards three times, winning in 2010 for Best Instrumental Arrangement. A Southern Californian, he currently teaches at California State University, Fullerton, playing local gigs and recording extensively. The 14 songs range from the pious simplicity of “Angels from the ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Bill Cunliffe: That Time of Year

Read "That Time of Year" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

There's always the danger of getting all schmaltzy with Christmas music, but jazz people are hipper than average and can usually come up with something appropriately cool to spin around holiday time. That's exactly what pianist/composer Bill Cunliffe has done with That Time of Year.Cunliffe is a versatile artist who is comfortable in any size ensemble--from his Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2 (Resonance Records, 2008) to his Grammy-winning arrangement on Resonance Big Band's Plays Tribute to ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Bill Cunliffe: That Time of Year

Read "That Time of Year" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

West Coast pianist Bill Cunliffe has released a most welcome holiday disc in That Time of Year. With Christmas coming commercially before Halloween in bigger and more brazen waves each year, having the music of the season reduced to its sheer elements by a well-versed master is refreshing, if not spiritually reviving. Cunliffe's pianism is urbane and lyrical, perfectly suited for interpreting a well- worn and loved repertoire. Cunliffe has previously demonstrated his knack for freshly focused concepts for old ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Bill Cunliffe: The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2

Read "Bill Cunliffe: The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2" reviewed by C. Michael Bailey

Bill Cunliffe The Blues and the Abstract Truth, Take 2 Resonance Records 2008Oliver Nelson (1932-1975) was a saxophonist, arranger, and composer who seemed everywhere in the 1960s. In popular culture, Nelson is best remembered for his television scoring for shows including Ironside, Night Gallery, Columbo, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman and Longstreet. In jazz culture, Nelson is remembered for his masterpiece The Blues And The Abstract Truth (Impulse!, 1961). ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Bill Cunliffe: Imaginacion

Read "Imaginacion" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Grammy-nominated pianist Bill Cunliffe loves a good melody. He's recorded a couple of sets of Reed Kotler's beautifully lyrical tunes, most recently Tomo (Torii, '05). With his latest offering, Imaginacion, the pianist/arranger wraps some melodies--his own and a few classics--in a strong Latin vibe.The expanded lineup, featuring two trombones, two trumpets, and a reed player, plus piano and bass, along with three percussionists, offers more harmonic possiblities, and Cunliffe has a genius in this arena, crafting lush washes ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Bill Cunliffe: Tomo

Read "Tomo" reviewed by Germein Linares

Tomo is the second album on Torri honoring composer Reed Kotler, following last year's release of It's About Love by pianist/arranger Bill Cunliffe. Though little known outside San Francisco, Kotler is a modern composer who seems to have struck an appreciative chord with the Los Angeles-based Cunliffe.As with It's About Love, the music on Tomo is gentle and relaxing. Offering a handsome set of twelve tunes, the group of saxophonist Bob Sheppard, guitarist Larry Koonse, pianist Bill Cunliffe, ...

ALBUM REVIEWS

Bill Cunliffe: Tomo

Read "Tomo" reviewed by Dan McClenaghan

Pianist Bill Cunliffe, winner of the 1989 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, seems to be making something of a career out of recording Reed Kotler tunes. He did that with Bobby Shew, Gary Foster and Friends Play the Music of Reed Kotler in 2002; Bill Cunliffe and Gary Foster: It's About Love: The Music of Reed Kotler in 2003; and now he offers up Tomo: The Music of Reed Kotler. Five musicians are named on the disc's cover, ...