Fred Kaplan for "Stereophile"

Marc Copland’s Zenith

Until Zenith, the first release on his own label, Inner Voice Jazz, pianist Marc Copland had never played with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, but they prove an ideal match. Joined by bassist Drew Gress (who has long played with both musicians) and drummer Joey Baron (who can play anything with anybody), this might turn out to be a “classic quartet.”

Alessi, 53, has a lean tone and a penchant for minor chords that seems to owe much to Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way mode, but he adds to it a classicist’s harmonic stretch and an expansive puzzle-master’s sense of space. His albums as a composer-leader, most notably Baida and This Against That, tend to explore the tectonic layers of a song in always intriguing, sometimes riveting ways.

Copland, 67, played saxophone early on before switching to piano, which may account for the sharp clarity of his melodic lines (a legacy of his horn-blowing days) and the vast palette of colors in his voicings (a dimension of music that he couldn’t tap into with a horn alone). When he and Alessi start playing the melody of Ellington’s “Mystery Song” (the album’s only cover), I thought for a second that two horns were blowing in unison.

Melodic lines and color palettes aren’t the first (or second, or third) features I’d note about Alessi’s past albums (or his musical inclinations), but Copland’s immersions bring out a glow in the trumpeter’s sound. The two musicians complement each other with depths of feeling I wouldn’t have expected.

This is a very satisfying album not only musically but also sonically. Engineer Katsuhiko Naitu recorded the session in 24/96 using ProTools at Oktaven AudiO, in Yonkers, using the studio’s stockpile of vintage mikes (and some modern clones), including Neumann M49s and KM84s, RCA 44s, and a pair of Schoeps CMT-56s for ambience. Some jiggering was done in the mastering with a Manley Massive Passive EQ and Prism-Maselec MLA2 limiter.

Alessi’s trumpet sounds warm but natural and vibrant; Baron’s trapset snaps and shimmers; Gress’ bass is properly woody and articulate; and Copland’s piano has the right mix of percussive and liquid.


Mar 1 2021

Pianista di arte sopraffina – Intervista a Marc Copland

A 72 anni, quando potrebbe anche essere lecito aspettarsi un certo rallentamento creativo, Marc Copland pianista di arte sopraffina, ha dato una robusta sferzata alla sua carriera grazie a un album in solo dedicato al suo compianto amico John Abercrombie (e non mancate l'omaggio precedente a Gary Peacock, altro gigante ...
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Jan 28 2021

John – Piano Solo

Eine Farbfotografie des Gitarristen John Abercrombie ziert den Innenteil des Digipacks von „John“, dem Soloalbum des Pianisten Marc Copland, der – bescheiden zurücktretend – mit einem von scharfen Kontrasten geprägten, fast dämonisch anmutenden Schwarz-Weiß-Foto abgebildet ist. Jahrelang spielten sie zusammen, immer wieder, von 1971 als Mitglieder des Chico Hamilton Quartet ...
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Jan 26 2021

Downbeat: JOHN (Marc Copland)

Pianist Marc Copland—who played saxophone during the early ’70s alongside guitarist John Abercrombie in a fusion act simply called Friends—summons a solo tribute album aimed at his late friend. Copland and Abercrombie gigged and recorded together in a variety of settings during the subsequent decades, and the pianist finds alluring, ...
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Jan 26 2021

John: 4 ½ STARS

“A GENIUS….so alluring….completely lacking in pretense.” Pianist Marc Copland crossed paths with guitarist John Abercrombie in the early '70s, playing in drummer Chico Hamilton's group. Copland was, at the time, a saxophonist. The collaboration there began a fifty year friendship and multiple Abercrombie/Copland collaborations . Abercrombie passed away in 2017. John is Copland's eulogy for ...
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Jan 26 2021

John: Is that a sensible thing to do? Yes!

New………….to reveal the beauties, so numerous and diverse, of John Abercrombie’s compositions when one is a pianist:   Is that a sensible thing to do?  Yes, it’s a really good idea.  Especially if the pianist is a longtime companion of the late guitarist, and no small wonder, he puts his whole ...
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Nov 15 2020

JOHN – new release Marc Copland solo piano

CLICK HERE TO BUY CD Over his long career, pianist Marc Copland has become known as a unique stylist, a harmonic innovator, and a gifted improviser with a unique sense of touch. Much of his recorded output over the decades has been in duos, trios, and quartets. Yet from his ...
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