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May 2009

Marc Copland
New York Trio Recordings Vol. 3: Night Whispers
Pirouet

Marc Copland is a player you either like or you don’t. Some of his fellow jazz pianists find him effete. His time is not his strong suit, and he is not “pianistic.” In fact, Copland started as a saxophonist and came late to the piano.

This reviewer can listen to him all night. For Copland the piano is a means to evoke moodscapes, self-contained atmospheres of crystalline lyricism. But his version of romantic impressionism is not soft. His colors are pastel yet complex, and his harmonies are ambiguous.

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Marc Copland

The third volume of New York Trio Recordings features Drew Gress and Bill Stewart, a bassist and drummer deeply in touch with Copland’s free poetic process. Even with different personnel on the first two CDs (Gary Peacock and Paul Motian), the series feels like a single arc. Yet certain elements distinguish Night Whispers. There are three concise solo piano meditations on Johnny Mandel’s “Emily.” They are dissimilar yet illuminate in glimpses the same fragile, hovering melody, which becomes the album’s recurrent motif. Gress’ “Like It Never Was” contains distant allusions to “Emily.” It connects to Copland’s “The Bell Tolls” and Jule Styne’s “I Fall In Love Too Easily” because they all feel like variants of the same emotion, previously private, now shared.

Originally published in May 2009
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