Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

John Stetch: Standards

The freedom of solo piano is an exhilarating experience….” So says John Stetch in his notes to Standards (Justin Time), and it has become his ultimate form of self-expression. The Canadian-born pianist possesses an unlimited imagination, unique harmonic and rhythmic conceptions and the digital dexterity to execute any idea he hears. Right now, he’s on a self-imposed mission to create a library of solo statements “without being harnessed to the traditional gridwork,” and this is the second CD in that venture, the first being Ukrainianism (Justin Time, 2001).

Nine of the 10 tracks here are carefully chosen standards. Two Charlie Parker melody lines offer great contrast: the seldom heard “Segment” (aka “Diverse”) begins minimally with a one-finger “metronome” on two and four, then goes through cubistic variations before ending in a virtuosic flourish; the second is a playful treatment of “Moose the Mooche,” often over a one-finger pedal point, that features not only unison octaves, but a “unison” run half a tone beyond the octave! A jagged left-hand chord pattern runs through “Like Someone in Love,” played in 7/4. Unexpected quirks in Stetch’s stride succeed in making Monk’s “Pannonica” sound noneccentric.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published