In 2018, while he was in Chicago to record his ninth album, Suite!, for JMood Records, pianist Roberto Magris was introduced by tenor saxophonist Mark Colby to bassist Eric Hochberg, an artist with whom Magris formed an almost immediate bond. After performing together at Chicago's Jazz Showcase, Magris and Hochberg decided they should record together, and so they did, setting down Shuffling Ivories, wherein Magris pays tribute to a number of his pianistic heroes, from Eubie Blake to Oscar Peterson, Elmo Hope to Andrew Hill, with side helpings of Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Paul Bley and others, in November 2019. To do so, Magris had to revamp his musical persona from song to song and needed a partner who was able to adapt on the fly and keep in step, an assignment that posed no problem for the perceptive and versatile Hochberg.
Blake is represented by a pair of his pre-Swing Era classics, "Memories of You" and "The Chevy Chase," Hill by two versions of his charming ballad, "Laverne." Magris contributed three burnished originals"Shuffling Ivories," "Clef Club Jump" and "Italy" (the last a nod to his home country and Italian-American artists such as Lennie Tristano, George Wallington, Vido Musso, the Candoli brothers, Sal Mosca, Carl Fontana and Tony Bennett). Rounding out the inclusive session are Clarence Williams' assertive edict, "I've Found a New Baby," pianist Billy Gault's well-grooved "The Time of This World Is at Hand," Cal Massey's bilateral "Quiet Dawn" and Trudy Pitts' buoyant "Anysha," from Rahsaan Roland Kirk's album Other Folks' Music (Atlantic, 1976).
Magris, who has more than thirty albums under his belt, adapts easily to any style, from ragtime to swing, stride to blues or soul to bop, lending depth and variety to the enterprise, while Hochberg is an unerring alter ego, plucking or bowing (as on "Quiet Dawn") with acuity and assurance. Together, they make Shuffling Ivories an unequivocal listening pleasure.
Shuffling Ivories, I've Found A New Baby, Clef Club Jump, Memories Of You, The Time Of This
World Is At Hand, Quiet Dawn, Laverne, Anysha, Italy, The Chevy Chase, Laverne-Take 2