Jazz musicians often run into one another at conferences, festivals, in nightclubs and sundry other places. Seldom, however, are they able to hold a meaningful conversation, let alone set up a recording session to take advantage of the opportunity. Sweet & Lovely,
Canadian pianist Mark Eisenmann’s second album under his own name, is an exception to the rule. While attending the 30th annual Conference of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) in Toronto in January ‘03, Eisenmann learned that drummer Jimmy Cobb was among those taking part, and seized the chance to cut an album with one of his idols. Cobb was available and willing, and by January 9 he, Eisenmann and bassist Pat Collins were in the studio and ready to rumble.
Rumble they did, and the album is a textbook lesson in how professionals can work seamlessly together simply by listening closely and responding instinctively to what is going on around them. Even though Cobb had never worked with Eisenmann or Collins, and the program includes three of the pianist’s original compositions, everything was recorded in a single take. And the uninformed listener would never guess that the trio was making its “debut” with mics open and tapes running.
Eisenmann is a tasteful player with unerring judgment and splendid chops, are as Collins and Cobb. The music they’ve chosen to play is exemplary, from Eisenmann’s engaging originals (“Sosumi,” “Bird’s Assurance,” “Gilt Be All Thy Stars”) to pianist Wynton Kelly’s groovy “Temperance” and the standards “Willow Weep for Me,” “Invitation,” “Sweet & Lovely,” “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and “Someday My Prince Will Come.” The recording itself is bright and transparent, the playing time respectable at 60:08.
Best of all is the remarkable interplay between Eisenmann, Collins and Cobb, three accomplished artists who weren’t about to let a little thing like unfamiliarity stand in the way of their making beautiful music together. This is one chance meeting that turned out favorably for everyone—including those who may choose to savor the fruits of their serendipitous partnership.