All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Bailey's Bundles

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...


Three Views of Jazz Piano: Bernie Worrell, Christian Jacob, Andrew Litton

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count
Here are three well-recorded solo piano recitals by three very different pianists playing three equally different jazz repertoires. In spite of these apparent differences, the three artists approach their material in a similarly spacious way. The results are encouraging.

Bernie Worrell
Elevation: The Upper Air
M.O.D. Technologies

There are a couple of things going on in this release. First, this is the first solo piano recording by Bernie Worrell. Worrell was a founding member of George Clinton's Parliament/Funkadelic, not exactly the musician one would expect to make such a close and introspective recording. Second, this is the flagship release from M.O.D. Technologies, who is attempting to effect "new sound experiences in material culture... [via] a multi directional / sound / information system." M.O.D. Technologies was initiated in 2010 by bassist Bill Laswell (producer of the current recording) and Giacomo Bruzzo, cofounder of Rare Noise Records (something else one would not expect).

The results of these unlikely alliances is a sonically-expansive, introspectively performed collection of modern music classics in the most unforgiving of formats: the solo recital. Worrell's airy interpretations are spacious enough in which to walk around. Stunning are quietly presented interpretations of Joe Zawinul's "In A Silent Way," John Coltrane's "Alabama" and Charles Mingus' "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat." Worrell reveal more of the skeletal composition of these pieces than if the composers were to expound on them. Bootsy Collins' "I'd Rather Be With You" is played tenderly, completely recast. Worrell even pulls out The Dramatics "I Wanna Go Outside in the Rain," slowing it down and embellishing the piece with plenty of space. Bob Marley's "Redemption Song" is given a slight gospel treatment, one summoning the sound of an ancient B3 while distilling the beauty of the song to its almost unendurable essence.

Christian Jacob
Beautiful Jazz: A Private Concert

Pianist Christian Jacob has spent the better part of the last fifteen years as the co-leader, arranger, and pianist for the Tierney Sutton Band. In that capacity, Jacob has loomed large in helping make Sutton a cutting-edge jazz vocalist while allowing her to retain a more traditional acoustic jazz trio format. Beautiful Jazz is Jacob's first solo piano recording. More loquacious than Worrell, Jacob sticks to an older, more traditional set of songs as vehicles for his almost post-modern treatments.

"How Long Has This Been Going On" introduces the disc, making plain Jacob's intelligent and informed method of interpretation. Jacob allows plenty of time for development while revealing the delicate harmonic underpinnings of the Gershwin melody. Jacob waxes classically on Igor Stravinsky's Etude No. 4 in F# Major, making the piece sound quite at home among the American music royalty. "My Romance" is darkly rich while "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" is played as if re-imagined by Charles Ives. An angular "Tea for Two" and cocktail cool "I'm Old Fashioned" give way to a virtuosic "One Note Samba" and atmospheric "Body and Soul." The most modern piece is John Coltrane's "Giant Steps," where Jacob rules with his left hand, straightening out the saxophonist's demanding harmonic structure in the solo section.

Andrew Litton
A Tribute to Oscar Peterson

Classical pianist Andrew Litton's homage to Oscar Peterson in the guise of performances of Peterson's improvisations is not the first of its kind. In 2004, pianist Steven Mayer released a collection of Art Tatum improvisations on Naxos (Art Tatum—Improvisations). Both releases are interesting listening because of the novelty of classical pianists performing the improvisations by jazz pianists as a matter of rote election. This approach effectively "freezes" a particular performance of a standard making it a singular work of art in itself.

Litton is of a generation of pianist who heard the likes of Horowitz, Rubinstein, Richter and Gilels live in concert. He also heard Peterson, whose powerful technique and color and voicing palettes impressed him as a master of interpretation. In this collection are rollicking performances of "Lulu's Back in Town," "Take the 'A' Train" and "Perdido" while Litton channels Peterson's incredible ballad spirit on "'Round Midnight," "A child is Born" and "The Nearness of You." Litton's touch is light and his pedal use judicious. The performance sonics are of a concert hall, spaciously captured, in not a little chilly in personality. No matter. These performances are spot on. If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, then Peterson should be smiling in heaven.


comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Seven Women 2018 – Part IV Bailey's Bundles
Seven Women 2018 – Part IV
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 28, 2018
Read Six on Cellar Live Bailey's Bundles
Six on Cellar Live
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 19, 2018
Read Seven woMEN 2018 – Part III Bailey's Bundles
Seven woMEN 2018 – Part III
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 8, 2018
Read Formats – Solo Through Nonet Bailey's Bundles
Formats – Solo Through Nonet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2018
Read Seven Women 2018 – Part II Bailey's Bundles
Seven Women 2018 – Part II
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 10, 2018
Read Seven Women 2018 - Part I Bailey's Bundles
Seven Women 2018 - Part I
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 24, 2018
Read "Art Pepper: Presents “West Coast Sessions” Volumes 5 & 6" Bailey's Bundles Art Pepper: Presents “West Coast Sessions”...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "Art Pepper: Presents “West Coast Sessions” Volumes 3 & 4" Bailey's Bundles Art Pepper: Presents “West Coast Sessions”...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight" Bailey's Bundles At the Louisiana Hayride Tonight
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 7, 2018
Read "Seven Women 2018 – Part IV" Bailey's Bundles Seven Women 2018 – Part IV
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 28, 2018
Read "Duos – Patrice Williamson/Jon Wheatley; Bill Brovold/Jamie Saft; Randy Ingram/Drew Gress; Eraldo Bernocchi/Prakash Sontakke; Cathy Segal-Garcia" Bailey's Bundles Duos – Patrice Williamson/Jon Wheatley; Bill...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 28, 2017