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 colleaguesbassist Martin Wind and drummer Tim Hornerwho 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 the years. All of the topics at hand were essentially born of the past in some way, shape or form, but the music is remarkably present in all respects. Cunliffe doesn't try to remake a memory or recycle any past successes; he simply plays himself in the here-and-now.
In teaming up with Horner and Wind, Cunliffe winds up with the perfect rhythm section to support his work. They bring a light-and-funky feel to "Sweet Andy," support "Blue Notes" with swinging insouciance, hit all the feel-shifting marks on "You And The Night And The Music," and rock out on "One (Is The Loneliest Number)." Wind winds his way through Cunliffe's work, proving to be an interactive presence throughout, and Horner's sensitive ride touch adds grace to the music ("For Wanda").
Cunliffe's compositions cover all of the bases, as he visits waltz territory ("What Might Have Been"), touches down in Brazil ("Choro (From Nostalgia In Corcovado)"), swings through ("Blue Notes"), and goes the tender route ("Erik's Song"), but his covers are the real head turners. He follows trends and sees positive results by finding his way into Björk's songbook ("All Is Full Of Love"), but that's not the best of the covers; that honor belongs to "The Girl From Ipanema." He manages to get something new out of that overripe song, delivering what may be the most pleasing version to be heard this side of the bossa nova craze. Slight metric adjustments add new wrinkles to this old tune without distorting its true nature, and Cunliffe enlivens things with bright harmonic colors.
Cunliffe may live on the West Coast these days, but the East still owns a bit of his musical soul; that much is made clear by the end of River Edge, New Jersey.
Sweet Andy; The Girl From Ipanema; Blue Notes; For Wanda; You And The Night And The Music; What Might Have Been; One (Is The Loneliest Number); Choro (from Nostalgia In Corcovado); All Is Full Of Love; Erik's Song.
Bill Cunliffe: piano; Martin Wind: bass; Tim Horner: drums.
All About Jazz has been a champion of jazz since 1995, supporting it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.
WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to rigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.
African Jazz Beyond Jazz Big Band Blues Brazilian Classical Dixieland / New Orleans / Swing Electronica Free Improv / Avant-Garde Fringes of Jazz Funk / Groove Fusion / Progressive Rock Hot Jazz Jam Band Latin Lounge / Exotica Modern Jazz R&B / Soul Straight-ahead (Bop, Hard bop, Cool) Vocal