Step Tempest

Piano: The Environment External & Internal

Since his recording debut in 2006 with reed master Dave Liebman (“Vienna Dialogues“), pianist and composer Bobby Avey has built quite an impressive resumé.  He won the Thelonious Monk Composition in 2011, just months after releasing his first CD as a leader. Also in 2011, he won a grant from Chamber Music America to travel to Haiti to research and record a Vodou Ceremony.  The upshot of that journey was the brilliant collection of pieces that make up the 2014 Whirlwind Recording “Authority Melts From Me.”  He’s also recorded a set of solo pieces recorded after “Authority..” but released before it on a CD titled “Be Not So Long to Speak.” Avey now tours with Liebman’s Expansions band and subs for Matt Mitchell in Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls.

Inhuman Wilderness” is his new album.  Issued on pianist Marc Copland’s InnerVoiceJazz label, the 8 tracks, composed by Avey, is  his creative reaction to how man treats his fellow man as well as how man ignores environmental warnings.  Whereas he does not use the album jacket or his website to voice his feelings, it comes out in the powerful music on the CD.  Featuring his long-time rhythm section of Thomson Kneeland (bass) and Jordan Perlson (drums) plus John O’Gallagher (alto saxophone on four tracks), there is such an urgency in this material that it can not be ignored.  Perlson’s chattering drums leads off the first cut “Countless Voices of Unknown People” – the music takes a while to build but then the “alarming” sounds of the piano using about the hip hop beat take over, circular phrases repeated over and over, that the listener is on edge.

O’Gallagher join the fray for “Fall Not a Tear“, his insistent alto sax rising high above the powerful rhythms created by the trio.  Their shifting rhythms also have a nervous quality that dissipate in the middle of the piece as the music gets introspective before Avey joins in an interaction with Kneeland and then Perlson.  The roiling left hand and rampaging drums that open “Land Theft“give way to the bowed bass, splashy high hat and ominous low note and then to the powerful attack of Perlson; it’s all done in 102 seconds but not before stunning the listener.

The solo piano track, “Rent The Sky“, is a dissonant ballad that starts quietly, much like a storm building on a muggy summer afternoon.  Soon, the tolling chords begin to pierce the speakers, the rumbling bass notes creating a thunder-like foundation.  The storm rolls through quickly, the music slows and fades to silence which, dramatically, lasts for nearly 20 seconds.

It is hard not to highlight each track on “Inhuman Wilderness” as each one carries such strength. Even the title cut, an extremely quiet excursion for quartet, has power as if one was walking late at night after a tornado has laid waste to his neighborhood.  Does the pianist/composer have hope for the world?   The music of the final track, “Composure Must Be Rare“, is soft nearly all the way through before rising to a powerful peak, only to drop down to cymbal sounding over a piano note. The ominous chords have disappeared, the saxophone is less strident and we land, gently, far from the discontent of the opening track.  Dramatic music for a dramatic time, challenging the listener to take action – how impressive. Bobby Avey has been an impressive musician since his first recordings and he is quickly maturing into a major force on the contemporary music stage.

For more information, go to www.bobbyavey.com.  The CD will be released on June 24 2016.

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

SE QUALCUNO VI CHIEDE CHE COSA SIA IL JAZZ, RISPONDETE PURE: «SOMEDAY» DI MARC COPLAND QUARTET!

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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