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Deidre Rodman

Deidre Rodman

In our lives we get overwhelmed with complexity,” says Deidre Rodman, who brightened an otherwise grim year when she debuted in 2001 with Sun Is Us. Now the young pianist-composer reveals yet more layers of her artistry on her sophomore release, Simple Stories (both albums are on Sunnyside). Dreaming up picturesque soundscapes and leading a band of top-flight players, Rodman has reached another milestone in an unlikely journey: from her hometown of Boise, Idaho, to graduate studies at North Texas, then the cruise-ship circuit, then the Big Apple Circus band and, at last, the upper echelons of the New York jazz scene.

She begins the new disc with a challenging question, posed in song by the Neighborhood School Children’s Choir: “When simple stories call / At doorways ripe for a fall / Will you open them wide to light?” Some 50 minutes later, following a breathtaking set played by Rodman (on piano and melodica), saxophonist Tony Malaby, trumpeter Russ Johnson, bassist Bob Bowen, drummer Mark Ferber and guest vocalist Luciana Souza, the Children’s Choir returns with a soaring melody line on the title track, a 12-minute-plus opus that closes the album. “I was teaching music to kids on the Lower East Side one day a week,” Rodman explains. “On my last day, I taught them the line from ‘Simple Stories’ and I recorded them. They were very excited.”

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