All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Kurt Ellenberger Trio: Songs From The Far West

Glenn Astarita By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Kurt Ellenberger has turned in a dandy here! With a nod to the Bill Evans’ school of piano or perhaps similar in “presentation” to some of Steve Kuhn’s recent work for ECM, comparisons or analogies do not allude to any sense of derivation........... Beautifully recorded at the Lawrence University Chapel in Appleton Wisconsin, Ellenberger and his super fine rhythm section induce or perhaps capture the aura of a morning sunrise on a gorgeous spring day somewhere in paradise. Songs From The Far West is a first class effort which is quite evident upon the opening piece titled, “Larkspur In Aspen”. Here, Ellenberger employs gobs of lovely harmonics, lush melodies and poignant phrasing as he brandishes a distinctive voice which, becomes apparent within minutes or perhaps seconds into the recording. The sympathetic if not keenly intuitive rhythm section consisting of bassist David Dunn and drummer Dane Richeson propel Ellenberger as he executes swirling clusters, lyrically rich thematic statements along with his deeply personalized and somewhat combustible attack. Throughout, this Trio perform as tight and cohesive as any working piano trio out there which includes the infamous Keith Jarrett and his superstar rhythm section. Ellenberger is a painter of unimaginable places! The compositions are meaningful, tightly coordinated yet maintain a loose if not relaxed feel.

They generate some heat on “Herr Mann’s Fell’d” as Ellenberger implements a few classical-style yet harmonically inclined chord progressions and climactic melodic development as the rhythm section shift meter, counterbalance the tonalities and provide upbeat “swing” grooves. On “Internal Presence”, Ellenberger is somewhat pensive yet always finds a bright side without becoming overly morose or austere. With “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”, the trio swing through rich harmonies as Ellenberger remains intently focused upon thematic development yet displays his ingenuity as a lead soloist through well conceived single note leads intermingled with rapid left – right hand voicings. Many of these pieces unfold in a dramatic sense. The trio have a blast with tempi while frequently altering a motif or injecting brief solos, which often conforms to the guts of the composition. The closer, “Far West” is a hybrid swing, ballad – a mover and a shaker featuring prominent themes and memorable melodies as Ellenberger is a master of “manipulating” or toying with melody.

Songs From The Far West is a superb outing as accolades and praise should not stand as a substitute for the thoroughly enjoyable if not mesmerizing listening experience. This one is guaranteed to reside on the top shelf when or if you decide to remove it from your CD player. One of the major surprises of 1999........ Recommended to all! * * * * *


Title: Songs From The Far West | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: a/l/l


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read This City CD/LP/Track Review
This City
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 24, 2018
Read More Songs About Error And Shame CD/LP/Track Review
More Songs About Error And Shame
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2018
Read West Coast Trio CD/LP/Track Review
West Coast Trio
by Victor L. Schermer
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Sun Embassy CD/LP/Track Review
Sun Embassy
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 24, 2018
Read The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel – Beethoven Revisited Symphonies 1-9 CD/LP/Track Review
The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel –...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 24, 2018
Read Lala Belu CD/LP/Track Review
Lala Belu
by Chris May
Published: March 23, 2018
Read "Towards Language" CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "Amour Cruel" CD/LP/Track Review Amour Cruel
by Peter Jurew
Published: July 29, 2017
Read "Live at Ronnie Scott's" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Ronnie Scott's
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "Let's Groove: The Music of Earth Wind & Fire" CD/LP/Track Review Let's Groove: The Music of Earth Wind & Fire
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 1, 2017
Read "EE-YA-GI (Stories)" CD/LP/Track Review EE-YA-GI (Stories)
by Troy Dostert
Published: November 13, 2017
Read "Here on Earth" CD/LP/Track Review Here on Earth
by Doug Collette
Published: May 2, 2017