Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Ethan Iverson, Lee Konitz, Larry Grenadier and Jorge Rossy - Costumes are Mandatory (High Note, 2013)

Pianist Ethan Iverson insisted on his blog that he was not the "leader" of this band, but rather it was a cooperative endeavor with Lee Konitz on saxophone, Larry Grenadier on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums. This statement is borne out by the two takes of "Blueberry Ice Cream" bracket the album, both with a confident sense of casual swing that exemplifies the music on this LP. All of the musicians are highly seasoned professionals, and play no-nonsense jazz, with nothing to prove other than the joy of making music. On "Try a Little Tenderness" the music begins with soft, lilting piano, before the rest of the band enters in a subtle fashion. Konitz's saxophone seems to be floating on air. The standard "It's You" is taken in two parts, first a fascinating introduction for Iverson solo, with percussive piano refracted back upon itself, then Grenadier and Rossy join to make for a swaying trio at medium tempo. Konitz enters halfway through the performance with a classy and nuanced solo. There is also solo space for Grenadier who adds a probing pulsating sound to the music. "What's New" has a soft and delicate piano opening, Konitz add a a lush, tempered ballad sound, an the music takes on a patient thoughtful feel. "317 East 32nd" develops a nice bouncy feel for the piano, bass and drums unit before Konitz slides in to offer artful commentary in the proceedings. The iconic song "Body and Soul" opens with just Konitz and Grenadier playing in a very intimate fashion. There is a deft bass solo to go along with the supple saxophone, both men are patient and completely in the moment. Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill" shows the band slowing down and elaborating on the familiar melody. "A Distant Bell" is a fast piano trio performance as is "Bats" and then there is a bowed bass and piano duet on "Mr. Bumi." Altered piano (?) gives a slightly ominous air to "My New Lovers All Seem So Tame." Gentle scat singing adds a sly wink to on "My Old Flame" before Konitz revels in another lush solo opportunity. This album was interesting and was interesting and widely varied. for from a "master meets younger musicians"type album, this is where all the musicians are equal in music that transcends genre and boundary. 

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