Style and panache are just a few adjectives used to decribe jazz music and the way it make listeners feel. The phrase "Jazz it up" means to take something and add a little flair and spice to it. Gershwin and Ellington were masters in the classic sense at the very heart of swing and were synonymous with music that trancended the ordinary, but was accessible to everyone. They produced music that made your toes tap and your heart smile with the expression of their skill and love for the music. Classic in the sense of a timeless passion of endearing music. Music that inspired, entertained and surely made people feel special.
This is exactly the essence of pianist Rick Gallagher's new recording Sweet Potato Eyebrows. A relatively new recording artist, his sense of style and chops are smooth, vibrant, and delivered with much class and maturity. He is not new to the music scene though. A career musician from Pittsburgh, he is also a composer, arranger, and teacher. With a bachelor's degree in music his skills are unteachable attributes that come from within. His influences range from the likes of Herbie Hancock to Bill Evans, but the musical style and arrangements possess his own signature.
The music speaks for itself with a freshness and vibe that is elegant, contemplative, and holds a deep sense of swing. This is evident on the thought provoking piece "Everything is good" which highlights a beautiful melody and exquisite solos from both Gallagher and bassist Paul Thompson. Speaking of musicians; all are top notch on this recording. A prime example is the blues -tinged bop "Grumble" with its nice backdrop of percussion, strong horn arrangements, and solos. The rhythm section is tight and really opens things up on the fun title piece the can "Sweet Potato Eyebrows" which swings with a neo-funky rhythm. Gallagher has a rich and masterful sound. His work on the grand piano is thoughtful, strong, but not overstated. At times his delicate touch seems akin to rose petals floating across the keys. His sense of swing is strong yet smooth on selections such as "Barefoot Sunday". The aforementioned tunes were all penned by Gallagher, but he also gives equal care to the iconic selections of Gerswhin's "They can't take that away from me" and Duke Ellington's "I Got it Bad and that Ain't good". Other highlights include a refreshing twist on the classic entitled "Grace Amazing" and "The Night Before" that will surely linger in memory. This is jazz that is thoroughly enjoyable and will definitely add a little spice and flavor to those who appreciate good music.
1. They Can't Take That Away From Me 2. The Night Before 3. Sweet Potato Eyebrows 4. Adyn Rebekah 5. I Got It Bad 6. Grace Amazing 7. People of the World 8. Everything is Good (Olivia's Song) 9. My Heart Is With You 10. Grumblin 11. Barefoot Sunday
Rick Gallagher - piano; Paul Thompson - Bass; Thomas Wendt - Drums; - Delano "Volcano" Choy - Trumpet; Eric Defade - Tenor saxophone; Bob Kunkel - drums; George Jones - percussion; Brian Stahurski - Bass; Joe Waslousky - Drums