Retrospective looks back at liner notes will likely yield a preponderance of writers decrying the dearth of public notice afforded their subjects. So many musicians hold the signifier "unsung" next to their names that the count is long since lost. As such it hardly seems worth it to affix the word to Ernie Krivda’s situation, no matter how true it may ring. Krivda’s one of those local heroes; the sort who ignores the bait of the Big Apple and opts instead to toil away in his hometown (in Krivda’s case Cleveland, OH). Far from a self-imposed curse, this sort of provincialism can pay dividends. Away from the maddening politics and cutthroat financial realities of New York, musicians often retain a grounding and perspective lost to their so-called "more adventurous" peers.
The tactic has served Krivda well. Sure, a higher profile and the opportunities to tour and record that come with it would be nice. Even so he’s built a reputation through diligence and hard work that listeners willing to look have taken notice of. Among Krivda’s various admirers is producer Bob Rusch, who has bankrolled the bulk of his sessions over the years, including five for Cadence Jazz and one for CIMP. Curiously enough, Krivda was the first to record for the latter label, but logistic wrinkles with the session led to a scrapping and rescheduling. In the interim the Evan Parker/Barry Guy/Paul Lytton trio secured the inaugural slot.
Krivda’s belated return to the Spirit Room finds him in familiar company. He and guitarist Bob Fraser have worked together since the early '60s. Associations with the other three, all in their early twenties, date from 2001. The relative youth of the group is hardly a handicap. Enthusiasm and energy was so high that quintet recorded enough material for two complete albums over the span of two days. This first entry essays six tunes varying in length from several minutes to a half hour. Krivda’s style situates comfortably in post bop. He espouses a strong respect for conventional harmony and melody. While charged with creativity, his improvisations rarely abandon such stanchions completely. In this respect he’s somewhat unique in the CIMP annals, a library known for its free jazz holdings.
Lithe heads expand into equally lubricious solos. On “Blue Hokum” Krivda rides out the tight unison theme into an extended bop-tinged burst of seesawing phrases. Fraser comps brightly behind him and supplies the same support for Farinacci whose crisp lines surf the cymbal heavy froth issuing forth from Intorre’s kit. The guitarist’s own solo mixes round single notes with spates of nimble strumming. Kotheimer loses ground in a few places, but his steady pizzicato rises to the top when his partners ease back. Intorre caps the tune off with a string of sturdy breaks.
At the other end of the program, “Panhandle Hook” acts as a moody, minor-key closer. Another forty minutes of hard-swinging jazz sits sandwiched between ripe for discovery. Clevelandites should count themselves lucky that such talents reside in their city.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.