jueves, 29 de junio de 2017

Tom Kohl, Dances With Sun (2017)


Frank Kohl's Little Brother Steps Out With a NEW Release in a collection that has been growing since 1993.  With the release of Dances With the Sun, Kohl's 4th offering sporting 7 originals and and two standards, his latest offering is already proving to be a standout date of excellence.


From 1980 to 1985 Kohl attended UMass Amherst. Studying with saxophonists Archie Shepp and Marion Brown as well as gospel musician and scholar Horace Clarence Boyer. The rich jazz environment at UMass prepared Kohl well to eventually relocate back to the NYC area in 1985.

For the next few years Kohl played and recorded extensively at clubs, concert venues and recording studios in the Northeast.

Featuring
Tom Kohl - piano all tracks
Steve LaSpina - bass on tracks 1,2,4,6,7,8
Stephen Roane - bass on tracks 3 and 5
Jon Doty - drums all tracks


Jazz pianist Tom Kohl began his jazz explorations at the age of 11 when some family friends gave the Kohl household a grand piano. Initially self taught, Kohl felt an instant affinity with harmony and improvisation. His older brother (jazz guitarist Frank Kohl) gave him a copy of the LP Facing You by Keith Jarrett. “When I first listened to the music on that LP it was like my musical world exploded” Kohl remembers “The harmony, energy and folksy nature of that music made me want to speak the language of jazz.” Eventually studying with pianist Larry Agovino, Kohl began to develop a richly harmonic style that was deeply steeped in the history of jazz. Growing up in the NYC metropolitan area allowed Kohl access to jazz clubs such as: The Village Vanguard, Sweet Basil’s, Fat Tuesday’s and The Village Gate to name a few. Kohl recalls, “ When I was in high school I would regularly go into the city to see Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, McCoy Tyner and all sorts of incredible musicians.”

From 1980 to 1985 Kohl attended UMass Amherst. Studying with saxophonists Archie Shepp and Marion Brown as well as gospel musician and scholar Horace Clarence Boyer. The rich jazz environment at UMass prepared Kohl well to eventually relocate back to the NYC area in 1985.

For the next few years Kohl played and recorded extensively at clubs, concert venues and recording studios in the Northeast. Kohl worked with many great musicians and ensembles including: bassists Stephen Roane, Steve LaSpina, Bill Crow, Mark Johnson, drummer Jon Doty, guitarist (and brother) Frank Kohl, the Fred Smith Quartet and the Michelle LeBlanc Quintet.  Kohl’s compositions and ensemble skills are showcased in his four CDs as a leader: Voice of Choice (1993), Three Windows (1998), Twain (2001) and Dances with the Sun (2017).

The spirit of Kohl’s recorded works is summed up well by Eric Nemeyer of Jazz Improvization Magazine describing the music on Three Windows, “This independently released recording stands light years ahead of innumerable self-released jazz albums that flood the market. Kohl possesses the experience and the substance and demonstrates he has a lot of meaningful things to say”.


Pianist Tom Kohl’s fourth album as a leader, Dances with the Sun gives us an uniquely beautiful mix of seven original compositions as well as two jazz standards. Kohl’s continued exploration of the modern jazz piano trio is aided by bassists Steve LaSpina, Stephen Roane and drummer Jon Doty. Kohl’s originals are harmonically rich, stylistically diverse and rhythmically energetic. In contrast, his lyrical treatment of two well-worn jazz standards celebrates a reverence for the great American songbook.

Dances with the Sun opens with Kohl’s original Tymus. This piece is a microcosm of the entire CD in that it features several alternating feels: an ostinato, a straight-ahead romp, and last, a quick waltz. Kohl quickly shifts gears with a playful and melodic waltz Can I Ask You a Question? Among Kohl’s other original works are two grunge-era inspired pieces Ab-tune and Stick Figure. Both pieces artfully embrace shifting meters, dark harmonies and drumming more akin to 90’s Seattle.

Kohl’s treatment of the jazz standard Indian Summer is a straight ahead nod to guitarist Jim Hall. The CD wraps up by introducing yet another different feel – Apricots is a completely pre-composed solo piano piece. Perhaps best described as a study in shifting tonal centers.

Helping out Kohl on this disc are four seasoned veteran musicians from the NYC area. Bassist Steve LaSpina’s musical abilities are jaw droppingly apparent on Carbonesque – first he doubles Kohl’s melody with beautiful tone and phrasing, then he solos magnificently on the 7/4 outro. Bassist Stephen Roane’s warm tone is featured playing the melody on the bridge of Stick Figure.

He ably energizes this piece embracing different meters and feels. Throughout the varied styles that we hear on this disc, drummer Jon Doty’s contributions are essential to the spirit of each piece. His solos on Tymus and the title track are perfect vehicles to showcase his formidable skills.


Dances with the Sun is a collection of well-crafted, mostly trio performances that come together like a book of diverse short stories. Each different from the last yet coming together as a unified whole.