140

Joan Stiles: Three Musicians

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Joan Stiles: Three Musicians On the surface, Three Musicians is a smart collection of performances from a witty threesome, but closer observation reveals deep Cubist intent. In referencing one of Pablo Picasso's masterpieces, pianist Joan Stiles touches on a style of art that rarely finds an overt entrance into jazz, creating a layered, collage ideology within the very fabric of her work.

The term "mash-up" has become the phrase of choice in pop music circles to describe arrangements that weave two separate songs into a single work of art, but that concept is merely an outgrowth of Synthetic Cubism. While few musicians have tapped into the potential of this primarily visual art form, Stiles finds two different ways to touch on this topic. The obvious creation of combinatorial art comes with the merging of musical materials that takes place when she blends "Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?" with The Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love," or Cream's "Sunshine Of Your Love" with "My Funny Valentine" ("In The Sunshine Of My Funny Valentine's Love"), but her connection to Cubism also comes to light on a different plane. The very interaction between all three musicians on this date can be viewed as an aural, collage-based representation of what Cubism—and jazz—is all about.

Stiles, drummer Matt Wilson and saxophonist Joel Frahm overlap, contrast, collide and collude with one another in complementary fashion as they create music full of wit, wisdom and wonder that would have made Picasso and Georges Braque gush with pride. They deconstruct and reform Thelonious Monk's work to their liking ("Nutty" and "Introspection"), create music that charms and sparkles with beauty ("Lucky To Be Me"), and bring Stiles' own compositions to life ("West End Boogie" and "Bebopicity"). Much of this ground may have been frequently covered, the trio's ability to bring humor into the mix without resorting to caricature helps set it apart.

The majority of the music touches on a chemistry that exists between all parties, but three mid-album tracks delve deeply into the duo relationship between Frahm and Stiles. "All The Things You Are" is a short journey all about weaving melodic, harmonic and rhythmic elements between two parties, while "O.W." is steeped in bluesy interplay; but the beauty of the bunch is the serious-as-can-be take on Billy Strayhorn's "Blood Count," which proves to be the album's emotional centerpiece.

Those prone to analyzing art can make plenty of connections between Stiles' work and Cubism as a whole, or argue the opposite to their heart's content, but that doesn't really matter. Music matters most, and Stiles clearly gets that.

Track Listing: Everything's Coming Up Roses; In The Sunshine Of My Funny Valentine's Love; West End Boogie; You Don't Know What Love Is; Lucky To Be Me; All Th Things You Are; Blood Count; O.W.; Introspection; Nutty; Brother Can You Spare A Dime? / Can't by Me Love; Bebopicity.

Personnel: Joan Stiles: piano; Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone(1-3, 5-12), soprano saxophone (4); Matt Wilson: drums (1-5, 9-12).

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Oo-Bla-Dee Music | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Bailey's Bundles
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

More Articles

Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Two CD/LP/Track Review Two
by Joe Gatto
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand CD/LP/Track Review Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Nightfall CD/LP/Track Review Nightfall
by John Kelman
Published: May 22, 2017
Read Pekka CD/LP/Track Review Pekka
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 22, 2017
Read "The Ray Davies Songbook" CD/LP/Track Review The Ray Davies Songbook
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 2, 2016
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Projeto Brasil!" CD/LP/Track Review Projeto Brasil!
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 27, 2016
Read "Life and Other Transient Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Life and Other Transient Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 26, 2016
Read "Nine Thoughts For One Word" CD/LP/Track Review Nine Thoughts For One Word
by John Ephland
Published: October 1, 2016
Read "Cool" CD/LP/Track Review Cool
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 20, 2017
comments powered by Disqus

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!