Monday, April 2, 2012

Mehldau's Odes, Escoffery's Journey - Bob Stewart

"The pianist Brad Mehldau has led this iteration of his pace-setting trio-with the bassist Larry Grenadier and the drummer Jeff Ballard-- since 2005, and it has evolved into a graceful powerhouse, equally savvy about groove and harmony." - New York Times. "Ode" -- the trio's first studio release in seven years -- "is a collection of originals I wrote specifically for my trio with Larry and Jeff," explains Mehldau. Most of the songs, he continues, "are tributes to someone else, and I began to think of them as odes, or poems that might be sung; in our case here it's the singing only without all those pesky words." Subjects include the late saxophonist Michael Brecker, a character from the film "Easy Rider," and the guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Charlie Parker proclaimed: "If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn." Saxophonist Wayne Escoffery -- a veteran of New York's brightest bands, including the Mingus Big Band and Tom Harrell's, and a protégé of Jackie McLean -- has lived it. His new disc -- "The Only Son of One" -- is an inspired and impassioned recording that chronicles a turbulent but ultimately triumphant tale of his life which began in North London, where he was born to a loving mother and her abusive Jamaican husband, who forced her to emigrate to the United States when Escoffery was eight years old. It was here in the U.S. where Escoffery navigated America's murky waters of fatherlessness, race and identity. He enrolled and excelled at McLean's prestigious Hartt School of Music, the New England Conservatory of Music and the Thelonius Monk Institute. He created a new name for himself while wrestling with the emotional minefields left by his absent father. This new disc reflects his emotional journey.

No comments: