Dick Twardzik | 1954 Improvisations | NA1006

Dick Twardzik, piano | Jack Lawlor, bass | Peter Littman, drums

1. Warming Up 2. Nice Work If You Can Get It 3.‘Round Midnight 4. Get Happy 5. It Could Happen to You 6. All the Things You Are 7. Yesterdays 8. Original 9. Our Love is Here to Stay 10. I Get a Kick Out of You 11. Bess You Is My Woman 12. I’ll Remember April

Recording Date:Recorded at informal sessions up to 1954

” A rare and significant find indeed. These performances are treasures. The eight minutes of “I’ll Remember April” is, of itself, worth the price of the CD.” – Coda

“Exciting and individualistic. He was definitely at the forefront of improvisational probing in his time.” – Jazz News

“A rare glimpse of an obscure prodigy.” – Krin Gabbard, Cadence

Dick Twardzik | 1954 Improvisations | NA1006

Richard Twardzik’s “1954 Improvisations”

with its home recording on a dim acetate as well as an untuned piano for the first six of twelve numbers, is still a rare and significant find indeed. Digitally remastered, it makes the best of serious drawbacks. Twardzik, who lived only from 1931 to 1955, made very few recordings. A promising star, extinguished too soon by a self-inflicted drug overdose, he left us with a scant 23 sides with Charlie Mariano (1961/1953), Serge Chaloff (1954), and Chet Baker (1955). In addition to one (1951) number with Bird, and an impossible to get 1954 trio album under his own name; hence, these additional 12 performances, in any form, are treasures.

One begins to overlook the horrendously out-of-tune piano on numbers such as Warming Up and Round Midnight, so engrossed is Twardzik in his struggles to make them right despite the obstacles; and when the mechanical difficulties are overcome, the results are memorable. The final eight minute I’ll Remember April is, of itself, worth the price of the CD. An ingenious harmonic sense coupled with a strong bop sensibility in the school of Lennie Tristano or Bud Powell make this a must for anyone interested in that explorative period of jazz. — Coda Magazine, November 1, 1992

Dick Twardzik | 1954 Improvisations | NA1006Whether you became aware of Twardzik ages ago or through the recently re-released Pacific Jazz set, you’ll be intrigued by this previously unsuspected home-recording. Suddenly, with the recent reissue of the Serge Chaloff “Fable of Mabel” (and provided you can still get the session with Chet Baker), all of Twardzik’s will-of-the-wisp output is available simultaneously.

Quirky is the word that always comes to mind for his compositional approach, as opposed to the more satirical and more serious Monk, whom he occasionally resembles. The opening track might be superficially comparable to Monk’s “Chordially” warmup on Black Lion, but it’s less experimental and soon develops into a medly of “Yesterdays” (quite different from the track seven duo version) plus a few bars each of the Twardzik originals “Albuquerque Social Swim” and “A Crutch for the Crab.” These and two of the standards here appear fully-fledged on the Pacific Jazz Trio session, for which this may have been a rehearsal — when the draggy bass player joins in, Twardzik can be heard blaming the drummer — but the performances are looser and more approximate. It’s notable too how much more Bud Powell there is in the keyboard work here.

Unfortunately the recording is fuzzy and the piano, especially on the unaccompanied tracks, is more out-of-tune than anything you’ve heard on disc before. (Presentation isn’t too hot either: “I Get a Kick,” elsewhere in the liner called “Just One of Those Things,” certainly quotes Porter but is an improvisation on Edgar Sampson’s “Lullaby in Rhythm,”) Peter Morris, owner of the tape and presumably the piano, calls the present issue “One of the handful of great recordings of music of all time,” but you should hear the rest of Twardzik’s legacy before broaching this. — Brian Priestly, Wire Magazine

Dick Twardzik | 1954 Improvisations | NA1006

Despite the recording date

this music wasn’t released until the past year or so; in many ways, that’s easily explained. The music was taped on questionable equipment and the piano has to be the all-time champion insult to the ears and killer of inspiration for the performer. Despite that, the enthusiasts behind this release would seem to be justified in putting the material in circulation.

Twardzik was one of those figures in jazz who become legends or at least provocative, shadowy presences on the outer edge of the mainstream. He was only twenty-four when he died but during his 3-year pro career worked with such luminaries as Serge Chaloff, Charlie Parker, Lionel Hampton and Chet Baker — with whom he was touring Europe when he died. Known recorded output, prior to this unexpected session, was one and one-half LPs, plus a couple of sideman stints, This was enough to earn him notice as an exciting and individualistic modernist with high potential. Struggle through the technical limitations of this new release and you’ll hear that belief in that potential was justified. He was definitely at the forefront of improvisational probing in his time. — Lois Moody, Jazz News

Dick Twardzik | 1954 Improvisations | NA1006

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