Two Fantastic Releases Out Today (4/21/17)!
Randy Ingram's The Wandering and Mike McGinnis's Recurring Dream!
Stream: "The Wandering"
Pianist-composer Randy Ingram has put himself in a position to reveal more about his musical identity by scaling down to record The Wandering, a sophisticated, personal and enlightening duo album with bassist Drew Gress.
While other instrumentalists can choose a different mouthpiece or effects pedal to modulate and personalize their sound, pianists must develop their identity by how and what they play. Ingram has established his identity through his pianistic touch and sense of orchestration, earning many accolades over the years. As Kevin Laskey of NYC’s Jazz Gallery says, “It’s hard to make a piano sing. You can’t breathe into it. You can’t slide from one note to another. The piano is a mechanical music-maker, and it takes a real artist – an Ahmad Jamal, a Bill Evans, a Fred Hersch – to make it come alive. Pianist Randy Ingram is one of those artists. He has an immaculately honed touch and an unforced sense of lyricism.”
Ingram explains, “A jazz pianist’s true identity is defined equally by their tone and by the content of what they play: the specific shades and colorations of their harmonies, the types of textures they favor and the way they think about orchestrating and stating melodies – especially in the context of ‘standard’ repertoire.”
Ingram’s thoughts were reinforced by the opening of a new NYC venue, Mezzrow, that featured stripped down performances, mainly by pianists and bassists, filling a void created by the closing in the mid-1990s of the famed Bradley’s on University Place. Mezzrow has become an incubator and stage for pianists of all sorts to display their talents with the minimum of dressings, typically in duos with bass. The duo format resonated with Ingram, as one of the formative experiences in his musical development was a steady gig while at the University of Southern California with bassist Billy Mohler. Says Ingram, “I believe much of my stylistic identity started to form through playing that gig my last two years of college, and my memories of it have always made the duo format a very familiar and welcoming sound.”
As Ingram was developing repertoire for the followup to his previous Sunnyside release, Sky/Lift (2014), he began to feel a pull in a different direction. The music he was writing for his quartet focused on deeper interplay between piano and guitar, becoming more densely orchestrated and heavily structured. Ingram found himself thinking about ways that his pianistic voice could be more clearly and spontaneously be heard.
For Ingram’s debut performance at Mezzrow, bassist Drew Gress was his ideal duo partner. Universally praised as a master accompanist and soloist, Ingram had long admired Gress’s playing, being familiar with the bassist’s solo recordings and work with Fred Hersch. The duo’s first gig together was exemplary: Gress’s playing was wonderfully supportive but also motivating, pushing Ingram to explore new musical areas. At the conclusion of the duo’s first performance, Ingram’s friend, the saxophonist Jeremy Udden, described what he had heard as a stripped down, truthful statement on the identity of “Randy the player–Randy the pianist”.
Stream: "The Rising"
The romantic dream of many aspiring jazz musicians is to sail into New York City, drawn by the magnetism of the metropolis, and to seek an apprenticeship amongst the heroes and legends of the music. It isn’t often that these dreams come true, but for saxophonist/clarinetist/composer Mike McGinnis they did in his friendship and collaboration, with jazz legends Art Lande and Steve Swallow, showcased on the trio’s Recurring Dream.
Originally from Maine, McGinnis grew up focusing on classical saxophone, leading him to the Eastman School of Music, where pianist Michael Cain introduced him to a coterie of musicians who experimented in melding jazz and classical musical concepts, including what was called Third Stream music in the 1950s and 1960s. Cain also led McGinnis to the music of pianist Art Lande, whose remarkable playing is beyond category on his own far reaching projects and those by his early band, Rubisa Patrol. Both musical conceptions had a big impact on McGinnis.
It wasn’t long before McGinnis met Lande at a friend’s wedding, where the intimidated McGinnis jammed with the pianist. There was an immediate creative spark between the two and they began to correspond, becoming close friends and collaborators for the next 15 years.
McGinnis had seen Swallow’s name tagged to tunes with bizarre titles in the Real Book but it took until this time and really hearing the bassist’s incredible playing for McGinnis to study his expansive oeuvre. In 2006, Ohad Talmor asked McGinnis to sub in his chamber ensemble for a European tour, where, remarkably, Swallow was the featured composer and in the bass chair. McGinnis took quick advantage to develop a relationship with Swallow, savoring his stories, witticisms and generous spirit.
McGinnis was able to finally realize his dream in 2016 as he invited Lande and Swallow to Brooklyn for a weekend of performing and recording. The trio recorded nearly three hours of music at Systems Two Recording Studios, which was winnowed down to the program on the arresting Recurring Dream.
May 5 - Romero Lubambo - Sampa
May 19 - Diego Barber - One Minute Later
May 26 - Carlos Franzetti & Allison Brewster Franzetti - Luminosa
June 2 - Dan Tepfer Trio - Eleven Cages
June 2 - Adam Kolker - Beckon
June 9 - Dominique Eade & Ran Blake - Town & Country