JazzTimes is honored to present the premiere of “Midnight Blues,” a track from Alliterations, the debut album by pianist Andrew Carroll, to be released this May on AndrewCarrollMusic. On this self-composed piece, as on the album’s 12 other tracks (a mix of originals and rearrangements of others’ compositions), Carroll is backed by bassist Michael Pope and drummer Jonathan Barber.
Carroll was playing piano by the age of four; at nine, he began studying jazz with Rick Montalbano, former music director for Lou Rawls and instructor at Colgate, Syracuse, and Hamilton College. In 2005, he received the DownBeat Student Music Award for Instrumental Jazz Soloist. He has also won an Outstanding Piano Soloist Award from the Essentially Ellington Competition and two IAJE Outstanding Musician Awards and Scholarships, among other honors. As the pianist for the USC Thornton Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Shelly Berg, and a member of the Gibson/Baldwin GRAMMY Jazz Ensembles, he has performed alongside such artists as Burt Bacharach, Steve Miller, Jane Monheit, Elliot Mason, and Peter Eldridge.
Several years ago, Carroll was involved in a car accident, breaking both of his legs and feet. Much of the music on Alliterations was composed during his long recovery. He describes it as “my attempt to paint musical pictures of moments that captivated me … The title Alliterations is a play on words”—it can also be read as All Iterations—“demonstrating how the same 12 tones of an instrument, strung next to each other, can infer endless meanings.”
About this track in particular, Carroll writes: “‘Midnight Blues’ was simply a composition written to evoke the feeling of having the blues in the middle of the night. I was listening to John Coltrane’s ‘Equinox’ late one night and wanted to write a piece in C# minor. I strove to compose a piece that emits the feeling of a blues, played over a non-traditional form. This feeling was captured brilliantly by Michael Pope, who makes soloing in C# minor sound like a walk in the park. Jonathan Barber proved to be a constant source of inspiration in every capacity, from subtle accompanying to dynamic soloing. Another feature not to be overlooked is the tone of the piano, mixed by Eldar Djangirov, a master of the piano whose expertise left the instrument gleaming in synchronization with the message of the composition.”
For more information about Andrew Carroll, visit his website.