Total Time 64:15
To enjoy the effects of music fully, we must completely lose ourselves in it...
JEAN PHILIPPE RAMEAU (1734)
The music contained on this recording, my first release, consists primarily of beautiful pieces from three of the most influential pianist / composers of jazz Duke Ellington, Bud Powell, and Bill Evans. The title selection comes from the pen of another inspiring musician, saxophonist Wayne Shorter. And Ive added a few original ballads throughout the program, included to help sustain the contemplative mood of the album.
Love Letter was written around 1983. Bill Evans luxurious approach to harmony and voice-leading had a large influence on the writing.
Prelude (When You Dream) is a spur-of-the-moment improvisation loosely based on When You Dream, and furthers the mood and tone of the album established by Love Letter.
When You Dream first appeared on Wayne Shorters 1985 recording Atlantis. Id like to hear more musicians play this exquisite composition. Its interesting form, rich harmonies and hypnotic melodies intrigue and inspire me.
Yeshua, also titled Man of Peace, is from a soon-to-be-completed collection of mine based on the nature and names of Jesus the Messiah.
Dusk at Saudi, the first of three compositions by bebop pioneer Bud Powell, is an eerie, dark and provocative work. First recorded in 1951, it contains wonderful harmonic ideas, some of which remind me of Debussy.
Glass Enclosure, recorded as a trio number in 1953, is perhaps Buds most impressive composition. Its an exciting extended piece famous for its contrasts (differences in dynamics and tempos; consonance / dissonance). And, like Dusk at Saudi, there is no improvisation. Interpreting these works was a real challenge, yet very rewarding. They really arent jazz pieces at all (at least not in any traditional sense), but combine elements of jazz with ideas found in nineteenth- and twentieth-century serious (for lack of a better term) piano music, and Powells wonderfully unique musical mind. Masterpieces, both.
Ill Keep Loving You dates from 1949 and is a superb example of a beautiful, romantic ballad. The harmonies are lush and the melodies soar, yet the effect remains unpretentious its a gorgeous piece.
I Remember Bill Evans was written in a practice room at the Eastman School of Music that September night in 1980 when I learned the man had died. I was eighteen at the time, and I remember what a great loss we all felt. So I tried to capture my feelings for his music as faithfully as possible. Bill Evans and his music are missed today as much as ever.
Remembering the Rain is quintessential Evans. Recorded by the composer in 1978, the piece is a gem. The clarity and beauty of the melody, coupled with the lush underlying harmonies, creates an atmosphere at once both delicate and soothing. This composition is perhaps my favorite Evans piece.
Waltz for Debby is from the 1950s. My performance here is similar to the original version Evans recorded just a simple reading of the tune with no improvisation.
Melody for Two is a piece I wrote in 1989 for the wedding of two dear friends. The writing was inspired by Bud Powell and by the great pianist Barry Harris.
On every level, Duke Ellington ranks with the most important figures in the history of jazz. I believe he is undoubtedly the musics greatest composer. Reflections in D is a wonderful example of Ellingtons bow to impressionism. Throughout the piece, musical phrases stem primarily from a series of lush harmonic progressions. Ive expanded on Ellingtons original version by improvising at length over the chordal structure.
Warm Valley, originally a solo vehicle for the legendary alto saxophonist Johnny Hodges, dates from 1941. Its a smooth and sensual piece of music I never tire of playing.
Sophisticated Lady is an even earlier tune in the Ellington catalog (1933). It is perhaps more well-known than anything else in this collection. The songs beautiful and wide-ranging melody, combined with a deceptively intricate bridge, make it especially fun to interpret.
Melancholia, again from 1953, is another hauntingly elegant composition whose title accurately reflects the mood of the music. Like Glass Enclosure (and some other performances herein), the piece is primarily interpretive, rather than improvisatory. Its one of literally dozens of tremendous ballads by Ellington.
I sincerely hope these performances afford you many hours of rewarding listening.
©1991 MHR Records. All Rights Reserved.