About Time Music
Photo: Mara Battiste
Playing Standards Updated 05.15.11
This past March I celebrated my 10th anniversary as a jazz pianist. Before that, I spent 26 years primarily as a trumpeter, with just a bit of piano on the side. It seems strange to me that one can cease to do something after so long (I haven't touched a trumpet since) and not miss it. Perhaps it really is all about the "music inside us," and not the instrument through which we make it (though I'm not sure exactly how those would be teased apart). Regardless, it's been a great ride these past ten years!
I've been inspired by the music of many important players: Thelonious Monk, Bobby Timmons, Red Garland, McCoy Tyner, and especially Bill Evans, Kenny Barron, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, Kenny Werner, and more recently Brad Mehldau, to name just jazz pianists. My sincere thanks go also to my first jazz teacher, composer/pianist/educator Ranny Reeve, for his profound early influence and guidance, and to Phil DeGreg, Andy LaVerne, and Steve Allee for lots of valuable guidance during a 2001 Jamey Aebersold summer camp as I was getting started down this new path.The piano playing on most of the pieces included on my Jazz Works page is mine as well, but I thought it would be valuable to include a collection of at least tolerable recorded moments from my history so far in engaging with the tunes that have become "standards," both from the Great American Songbook and those more recent tunes by jazz composers that have become a fundamental part of our shared soundscape. All of the recordings were made live, with varying degrees of recording quality.
Musicians, like other creators, draw broadly from "the tradition" for inspiration in their work, and in more particular ways from those ancestors and siblings on the scene whose work speaks to them in some special way(s). This is, of course, as true in how we approach our own materials as it is in how we approach the standard repertory, but the mere fact of the latter somehow throws that truth into greater relief, at least for me. If I'm not careful, I'm more likely to be aware before I even play a note of what the influences on my playing might be, since I can draw from a huge body of recorded work by so many greats in how I hear these tunes. That dynamic interplay between "my own" musical impulses, the hidden influences drawn from the sum total of my musical experiences, and the overt influences of those musicians who hold a special place in my ears is a big part of both the fun and the frustration for me.
I hope you enjoy these recordings!
All The Things You Are (Jerome Kern) (piano solo only, rec. 12.05) AUDIO
Recorded live and with a strange phase-relationship problem on the stereo piano mics, it sounds like the piano is being put through a...well, a phase shifter (that "under-watery" sound). My musical colleagues are Lynn Colwell on bass and Jeff Parthun on drums.
Here's That Rainy Day (Jimmy Van Heusen) (excerpts, rec. 04.09) AUDIO
How Deep Is The Ocean (Irving Berlin) (excerpts, rec. 04.10) AUDIO
Recorded live at a gig on a portable digital recorder. This is an arrangement of mine. As I listen to it, I hear the influences of Kenny Barron and Herbie Hancock on my playing. My musical colleagues are Ned Boyd on alto sax, Lynn Colwell on bass, and Don Nichols on drums.
Recorded live at a gig by an engineer who actually knows what he's doing. Jazz musicians constantly run up against the "wall" of the theme-and-variations format: the (intro)-head-solo(s)-head school of design. This double-edged sword of jazz serves at once to liberate the soloist and the ensemble to arrive quickly and readily at a core of material that will be the springboard for spontaneous creation and interaction, yet at the same time as a kind of formal straightjacket, limiting variety and the potential for other kinds of large-scale arcs to a tune. Our response to this "problem" in this version of the oft-played Cole Porter standard was to sort of "ooze" into it over a bass pedal point, only hinting at aspects of the melody during the opening "head" (the hallmark descending major 7th - a wonderful stroke of ironic wit and/or wisdom on Porter's part to use that "thorniest" of intervals to open a tune with such an insipid title - now inverted into a minor 2nd) until the very close of the performance (not included in this excerpt). My musical colleagues are Lynn Colwell on bass and Don Nichols on drums.
Just A Closer Walk With Thee (trad.) ("piano" solo only, rec. 06.09) AUDIO
Nardis (Miles Davis) (excerpts, rec. 12.05) AUDIO
The Preacher (Horace Silver) ("organ" solo only, rec. 06.09) AUDIO
Resolution (John Coltrane) (excerpt, rec. 06.09) AUDIO
Rhythm-a-Ning (Thelonius Monk) (excerpts, rec. 04.10) AUDIO
So What (Miles Davis) ("piano" solo only, rec. 06.09) AUDIO
Strollin' (Horace Silver) (excerpts, rec. 02.09) AUDIO
Witchcraft (Cy Coleman) (excerpt, rec. 04.10) AUDIO
Free, into medium swing
Recorded live at a gig on a portable digital recorder. This is a pretty loose and abstract take on the great old Cy Coleman standard. My musical colleagues heard on this excerpt are Ned Boyd on alto sax, Lynn Colwell on bass, and Don Nichols on drums. The guys and I all admire this tune for its through-composed form, more interested and varied that the common 32-bar AABA form. We decided to approach this performance as an ongoing flirtation with the tune - at various distances - rather than the more common "faithful" theme-and-variations cycling through the changes that is the default setting for all jazzers. (Only at the end do make a nod to that tradition.) Little bits of the "genetic material" of the tune are constantly present in a kind of strange but interesting musical soup.BACK TO TOP