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.


Apr 21 2023

Someday – Space, elegance and heartiness are all at the forefront

The stupendous sound of American pianist Marc Copland is only matched by his immense creativity and originality. For this quartet session, recorded for his own label, the pianist teams up with bassist Drew Gress, a longtime partner in many musical voyages, and two new additions: Belgian-American saxophonist Robin Verheyen and ...
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Mar 23 2023


Si potrebbe dire che Marc Copland sia un artista dalla doppia vita. Partito come sassofonista con ottime collaborazioni in qualità di sideman, tra cui Chico Hamilton, Cameron Brown e Jeff Williams e John Abercrombie. Insoddisfatto dei limiti armonici del suo strumento, a metà degli ’70 anni, il giovane Copland lascia ...
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Feb 27 2023

“One of today’s great pianists….Fresh, powerful, sensitive: this is without doubt one of the best quartet recordings in recent memory.”

Marc Copland, at 74 years old, has nothing more to prove. He’s played with the greatest, recorded superb discs and is recognized as one of today’s great pianists. He can play music free of any constraints, and choose his preferred partners. His old friend Drew Gress is on bass here, ...
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Feb 9 2023

“A dream musical partnership, and as always with Marc Copland: exciting!” Jazz Thing

Next stop for the restless adventurer Marc Copland: after his interlude with violinist Mark Feldman, the pianist is back with saxophonists, with whom he has a soulmate-like connection--because that was his original instrument. The first was the Frenchman Jean-Charles Richard (L'etoffe des Reves, La Buisonne) and now it’s the Belgian ...
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Dec 9 2022

Music is magic in this group’s hands, and Marc Copland is the master magician – AllaboutJazz

Marc Copland is a former saxophonist who found his instrument artistically confining for the purposes of expressing his vision. So he called on his childhood piano training (synaptic memories intact) to make the switch to the keyboard. The results have been magic. His artistry with the 88s is second only ...
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Dec 1 2022

Interview The New York City Jazz Record

Marc Copland has been creating vital music for more than 40 years and the pianist is arguably at the very top of his game. He is most well known for his long associations with bassist Gary Peacock and guitarist John Abercrombie, issuing several game-changing albums on ECM. Copland is a ...
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