Narada Burton Greene | Live at Kerrytown House | No Business Records

Though modern, “avant-garde” jazz is an ensemble music often based on collective improvisation, solo performance is its own extraordinarily fruitful sub-area of investigation for the creative improviser. Without a reactive, interpretive partner (or several), the solo recital blurs the lines between composition and improvisation as the performer enters a world of unfettered development. Greene has been performing and recording solo since the 1970s, and these settings have yielded some of the most powerful statements in his oeuvre. As diverse as Greene’s palette is, his music is entirely about being grounded – and at home. — Clifford Allen Continue reading

Nicola Cipani | Klaviermassagen | Seven Solo Piano Recordings | Long Song Records

Pianist Nicola Cipani is one of Long Song’s most acclaimed discoveries. His debut The ill-tempered piano was saluted as “achingly gorgeous, unusual and wonderful” (Signal to noise), “endlessly clever and playful” (DMG), earning praise for the “impressive range of techniques” (The Wire) and “unbounded imagination” (AllAboutJazz), along with an honorable mention for best release of 2008 (AllAboutJazz New York). Cipani’s second solo CD no longer resorts to broken instruments — the piano is now healthy and tuned — but the result is still surprisingly uncharacteristic. These piano-string ‘massages’ unearth layers of new sounds, producing a thrilling landscape of drones, overtones, sympathetic resonances. Cipani manages to organize such magmatic potential into meaningful textures and music evolves as propelled by a reflection on sound itself. Continue reading

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. — Coda Magazine Continue reading

Lonnie Leibowitz | Terra’s Ascension | NA1040

A student of Connie Crothers, his style also has traces of the linear, knotted approach of Lennie Tristano. All told, it’s an interesting, stylistic synthesis of measure and exuburance, form and freedom, light and shade. What unites the various approaches-from the relative barrage of “Terra’s Ascension” to the fragile lyricism of “Pleiadian Soundscape” -is Leibowitz’s intensity and focus…this is a pretty rich program of music.”– Jason Bivins, Cadence Magazine Continue reading

Virg Dzurinko | Solo Piano | Fun City | NA1033

Basedon the brevity of information available on this disc from its packaging, it’s difficult to gain a handle on Dzurinko’s background. Fortunately, her style at the piano is far less enigmatic than her origins and usually favors a light lyrical touch and diplomatic approach to the politics of melody and rhythm. Spreading her lithe fingers over an intimate gathering of standards and originals, Dzurinko sounds very much at home in the company of one. Most of the pieces are limited in length, but opulent in ideas. Her original compositions are possessed of a stark and natural beauty that often overshadows her warmer, more accessible readings of the standards. “Dinosaurs Rising” and “Seven Eight” are two such pieces that move across the breadth of emotions within the space of only a few minutes. Other pieces, such as“Traffic and Weather Together,” manifest darker moods through taut tone clusters and the careful use of dissonance. Maintaining a high level of rapport with one’s instrument while remaining cognizant of an audience for the music can be a burden for any musician in a solo setting. From the music presented here, it’s apprarent that Dzurinko is more than up to the challenge presented by such sparse surroundings. — Derek Taylor Continue reading

Carol Liebowitz | Bob Field | Waves Of Blue Intensities | NA1021

Liebowitz and Field mix freely improvised tracks with very loose versions of standards like “Melancholy Baby” and “Out of Nowhere.” Field’s free playing (especially on the standards) is very coherent and eminently lyrical, using the tune’s melodic contours as a guide, while straying somewhat afield of the traditional harmonies. Liebowitz as much as ignores the changes completely. I imagine that she’s playing off the melody as interpreted by Field, probably keeping the harmonic rhythm in mind to a degree, but relying mostly on her musical instincts, which are usually fine. The totally improvised cuts (especially the title track) are an unqualified success, though I wish they’d stretched them out a little more. The tunes are rathertoo familiar in their original form to stand up to this kind of treatment; the weight of historical expectation lies heavy on every note, which can be a distraction. I suppose had one never heard “All of Me,” however, he orshe could easily accept Liebowitz and Field’s rendering as definitive. Quite an unusual album, and one worth hearing. — Chris Kelsy, Jazz Now (on line jazz magazine, New Sounds page, Oct. 1995) Continue reading

Liz Gorrill | Solo Piano | For the Beauty of the Earth | NA1030

After a stark, brooding deconstruction of Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is The Ocean,” Liz Gorrill goes on to createa startling solo piano record that explores territoryhovering somewhere between Paul Bley and Ran Blake. Certainly there’s a classical touch and strong feel offormal rigor about her playing that ranges from the Satie-like repetitions of “Secrets Start Singing” to thefugue-like romp of “Two Hands Made Of Sun,” a startling performance that made me smile as it conjuredup a further point of reference: Lennie Tristano. From impressionist miniatures like “Shaken Out In Thunder”and “The Stormy Wind” to sustained meditations like“Gardens Dying, Blossoming,” Gorrill explores anadventurous program that is simply exquisite. — David Lewis, Cadence, January 1999 Continue reading