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What's in a title? In the case of Simple Stories both everything and nothing, and repeated listenings fail to overcome the elusive quality of the music. Also, if there's some kind of underlying concept here, then that also remains equally elusive and – yes – secret. Part of the problem may lie in the lack of memorable melodies. Pianist Deidre Rodman's music (who's responsible for all of the music and lyrics here) contains no jarring deficiencies, but on the other hand neither does it contain much that makes you want to sit up and take notice. Instead it simply hangs – in the original sense of the term – in the air as a kind of unassuming alternative to silence which, because of the unassuming nature of of the music, becomes only more appealing.
On "Garden Suite breeze, stroll, stars" a delicate air of mystery is conjured up by Rodman and Tony Malaby on soprano sax in the intro, and the mood prevails until around three minutes into the piece, when the music becomes more grounded and the listener's attention starts to wander, not because of attention deficiency, but because the music outstays its welcome.
"The incomparable Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza" – to quote from the press release – makes no lasting impression for all of her supposed incomparability. Her singing is in a tradition of slightly bland, slightly folky, slightly New Age (remember that?) vocalists, and here she sings slightly earnestly of street vendors calling, verdant boughs, and a pure and reaching song. After a while her efforts become slightly irritating.
When for all of its accomplishment music adds up to very little, like here, then saying so can seem unkind. But in this case – and far from unique! – honesty is the best policy, and in all honesty the music here is so damn buttoned up that any self-taught music therapist would recommend a dose of Fred McDowell to cure the torpor prolonged exposure to it can surely cause.
Track Listing: 1. Prelude
2. Girl With Ponytails
6. Garden Suite breeze, stroll, stars
7. Sleeping Ground
9. Pure One
10. Simple Stories
Personnel: Deidre Rodman, Piano, Melodica, Vocals on 9 and 10; Russ Johnson, Trumpet; Tony Malaby,
Saxophones; Bob Bowen, Bass; Mark Ferber, Drums; Luciana Souza, Vocals on 3, 7, and 10; The
Neighbourhood School Children's Choir appear on 1 and 10.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.