Scheme For Thought was released on Gilles Peterson's Brownswood Recordings in September 2007, accompanied by a series of gigs around London, England by pianist Elan Mehler and his quartet. This group has completely abandoned standard notions of jazz: the absence of a drummer and repeated use of arco playing on the double bass give an almost classical and very ambient feeling to this ten-track set.
There is a great deal of subtle harmonic interaction between Mehler and the sometimes ghostly presence of David Moore on Fender Rhodes; it can take several thorough listening sessions to fully appreciate what they're creating. "The Pale 45s begins with a simple bass ostinato and exploratory piano overture, which develops into a basic melody used as a reference point throughout the track. Saxophonist Andrew Zimmerman briefly improvises over a Mehler vamp and the theme then returns, with an extended exchange of ideas between piano and Rhodes building up in tempo and volume.
"Auntie-Biotics features louder, grittier provocation from Mehler while Moore takes a long solo, after a delicate opening with a faintly swinging sax line. Zimmerman is in possession of a soft, malleable and breathy tone, and the clicking of keys on his instrument is frequently audible; it's easy to imagine sitting meters from the action at a smoky little jazz club somewhere in the depths of New York City. Bassist Tod Hendrick is very attentive to the nuances of his colleagues throughout the recording and does not overcrowd their sound with too many notes.
Philosophical references in the disc title are definitely appropriate for this inward-looking and highly contemplative release. The lack of a steady pulse instigates a spiritual, free-flowing quality but an undercurrent of deep intensity is always there. A chance meeting between Peterson and Mehler in a bar in Switzerland has turned out to be a blessing to jazz listeners everywhere.
Track Listing: Little Lost; Christmas Song; Scheme For Thought; The Pale 45s; Muse Suite; Vals; Auntie-Biotics; Ruby D; Head Trick; Elvis Presley Blues.
Personnel: Elan Mehler: piano; David Moore: Fender Rhodes; Andrew Zimmerman: tenor saxophone; Tod Hendrick: bass.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.