Dan Rufolo: Sacred Jazz

C. Michael Bailey By

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Simplicity and quietude are laudable goals in a jazz recording. They are often hard to pull off. Many artists wish to flex technical muscles in solo recordings and this is antithetical to simplicity and quietude. Pianist Dan Rufolo finds the sweet spot in the simple and still in his meditative suite made up of a baker's dozen of originals and standards whose orbit is somewhere around a Zen Christian spirituality.

Rufolo's opening six pieces create a sepia, crepuscular noir that is single-note oriented and careful in its collective deliberation. Rufolo uses the ancient "Greensleaves" as a true improvisatory vehicle. Long a staple of "new age" pianism and holiday releases, Rufolo treats the piece more like John Coltrane than Michael Lanz. He never disrespects the melody, rather he changes the left hand into something more anxious and less tranquil than is typically heard.

"My One and Only Love," "I Remember Clifford," and "After the Rain" are simply beautiful. Rufolo finds every blue note there is and he treats them gently. The grief in Benny Golson's melody is exposed nakedly by the pianist, who takes his time developing the piece, pushing it forward with three-note chord voicings that draw from the composition all of the church and spirituals present in the music innately. This quiet recording has quite a bit to say and he finishes it with the perfect coda of "Great is thy Faithfulness"— like Chopin had he been well.

Track Listing: Mantis; Little Waltz; Improvisation 3; Lilt; Movement I: Mountains; Movement IV: Fog; Greensleeves; My One and Only; I Remember Clifford; Faced with Sorrow; One Bread One Body; After the Rain; Great is thy Faithfulness.

Personnel: Dan Rufalo: piano.

Title: Sacred Jazz | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced


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