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David Ian: Valentine’s Day

C. Michael Bailey By

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David Ian: Valentine’s Day "A familiar world of jazz classics with the vintage feel..." Is it possible for jazz to have the same "historically-informed performance" preoccupation as classical music has since the 1970s?. This is not the same as the "period instrument" preoccupation of the same period in classical recording, though they do go hand-in-hand. "Historically informed" means the period performance practices are studied and applied today. Such rigorous attention does not exist in jazz as there are scores of artists trying to perform in that same way Miles Davis did when recording his book for Prestige before moving to Columbia in the 1950s. Pianist David Carr is attempting and mostly succeeding to emulate this sound on Valentine's Day as he had on his previous Vintage Christmas (Prescott Records, 2011) and the EP Vintage Christmas Wonderland (Prescott, 2013).

More specifically, Ian is trying to walk the tightrope between lounge jazz and the jazz concert stage. Jazz wasn't born on the concert stage; it was born in bordellos and bars, and that will always remain part of its organic charm. Ian brings the music back to the aroma of unfiltered Lucky Strikes and well scotch whiskey, where the music did sonically what the nicotine and alcohol did physiologically...set a mood and maintained it.. In this, Ian completely succeeds...right down to song choice.

Completely eschewing the Scott Yanow moratorium on certain songs in the jazz repertoire, Ian takes the bull by the horns and presents "My Funny Valentine" (sung by Kevin Max) and "Summertime" (sung by Talitha Walters-Wulfing) as if both were freshly scrubbed in 1952. The performances embrace the imperfection of live performance, soundly placing them in the spontaneous environment of the saloon. Ian's instrumental outlays boast a virile and confident personality like that of Bill Evans without his acute introspection. Ian is more Wynton Kelly than Red Garland. "Autumn Leaves," "Stella By Starlight" and "Someday My Prince Will Come" in Ian's hands, all reveal why they are called "standards."

Ian achieves a sound that will be identified as jazz before something like Craig Taborn's excellent Chants (ECM, 2013) will be. Both are integral parts of the same tapestry and Ian holds up his keeper-of-the-flame retro end admirably. A great listen.

Track Listing: Autumn Leaves; My Funny Valentine; Stella by Starlight; Solitude; Someday My Prince Will Come; Emily; Young and Foolish; Summertime; Night and Day; There will Never Be Another You; Sweet By and By.

Personnel: David Ian: piano, guitar; Jon Estes: Bass; Josh Hunt: drums, percussion; Elizabeth Estes: violins; Matt Nelson: cellos; Kevin Max: vocals (1); Acacia: vocals (4); Andre Miguel Mayo: vocals (7); Talitha Walters-Wulfing: vocals (8); Russ Taff: vocals (11).

Title: Valentine’s Day | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Prescott Recordings


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