Courtesy londonjazznews.com / Photos: Monika Jakubowska / Text: Sebastian Scotney - Mike Collins - Bill Milkowski
In a recording studio somewhere, the drummer drops into a groove: a ghost of a backbeat; a shuffling, even quavered, funky vibe, punctuated by propulsive kicks. Joey Baron has got their attention. Drew Gress adds pushy little bass figures and they’re cooking. Marc Copland’s listening. I imagine him with eyes closed and head tilting back before draping a few chords over the now pulsing bass. The harmony makes them seem to bend and warp, before Copland finds a choppy, repeating riff that skips between gaps in the bass line. It’s utterly infectious. The recording space is in New York and this is Mitzi & Johnny from the trio’s new release And I Love Her. It’s a spontaneous moment, the locked tight but relaxed togetherness notwithstanding, and so good they couldn’t leave it off the final release.
Monika Jakubowska’s photos capture the mood of an evening at London's Pizza Express. The quiet appreciative buzz of a full house, increasingly drawn in to the ebb and flow of music which is being created on the spot and in the moment. For us. No tricks, no hiding away, just three musicians bring their hard-learnt craft and their good humour to an audience gathered immediately in front of them.
Pianist Marc Copland allows stories to unfold gently, but their are also those peaks, ecstatic moments. Why would one want to watch and hear music from further away when it can be seen at these close quarters?
There was one table close by that was occupied by three pianists who were mirroring Copland’s expressions with the occasional dropping jaw, as he landed an unexpected harmony.
Copland’s partners in this wonderful collaboration included one of the great bassists, Drew Gress, who always combines positivity, presence of sound and a sense of direction in what he does with an astonishing sensitivity for level, particularly in a contemplative tune like My Foolish Heart, forever associated with Bill Evans.
On drums was young talent Jonas Burgwinkel; the attentiveness, the empathy, the interplay, the freedom of these three players made for a special evening.
And this last picture is the one which really resonates. Monika Jakubowska loves to dare to get close, and to see if she can find the essence of what musicians are truly about. One might caption this last picture “quiet concentration”, but it is unnecessary. The picture speaks for itself.
This is music that catches the attention with a muted intensity and then insinuates its beauty into the consciousness without being too direct. It’s acoustic trio jazz that sets a standard and these three musicians are without peers when it comes to weaving a spell. And I Love Her is a top drawer album from a unique band. ---LondonJazzNews CD review (Mike Collins)
4 1/2 stars... Their ethereal take on “Afro Blue” might be the most strikingly impressionistic of the set. Opening with a free-flowing dialogue between Baron and Gress, it only begins to allude to the familiar melody at the two-minute mark, shortly after Copland enters the picture. Baron’s simmering 6/8 feel sets an understated, swinging tone as Copland’s penchant for reharmonization kicks in. This organic, in-the-moment approach also informs versions of “Cantaloupe Island,” as well as “And I Love Her,” both imbued with mysterioso reharmonization. Baron throws down a chugging groove on the free-form “Mitzi & Jonny,” then showcases his brushwork on a harmonically tweaked rendition of Cole Porter’s “You Do Something To Me” to close out the album in classy, slightly subversive fashion. ---Down Beat Magazine CD review (Bill Milkowski)
“The piano whisperer.” --Jazz n More (Switzerland) +++ “The best and most lyrical album I've heard in a while.” --Downbeat (USA) +++ “A quiet giant....the stuff of legend.” --allaboutjazz.com +++ “Jazz at its absolute finest.” --Jazzreview.com +++ “A veritable poet of the piano.” --Repertoire, France
The most prolific pianist of the new millenium, Marc Copland is recognized as a player who's a “triple threat”: widely regarded for his lyrical sense of touch, his innovative harmonies, and his deep sense of swing. Also a gifted composer, he returns to playing with his own trio after nearly a decade as an integral part of the groups of John Abercrombie and Gary Peacock. His recording career can be roughly divided into five periods: the 90s, six cds for Japanese the Jazz City and Denon/Savoy; 2000-2006, three to four cds a year with various European labels; 2006-2013, ten albums for Pirouet Records; 2013-2015, four albums for ECM as pianist in John Abercrombie's quartet and Gary Peacock's trio; and 2015 to the present day, with the labels innerVoice Jazz, Illusions, and Illusion/Mirage (Zenith, Better by Far, Nightfall, Gary, And I Love Her). His credits include John Abercrombie, David Liebman, Herbie Mann, James Moody, Gary Peacock, and Ken Wheeler.
“Anyone losing sleep over whether jazz is going anywhere should listen to this superb bassist.”--the Guardian +++ "Relentlessly creative.. --NY Times +++ “A gifted bassist--reminiscent of LaFaro yet altogether personal...his own music and bands are as remarkable as those of the heavyweights he plays with. "--All About Jazz (USA)
Bassist/composer Drew Gress performs extensively with artists on the cutting edge of contemporary improvised music. His critically acclaimed recordings as a leader include The Irrational Numbers (Premonition), 7 Black Butterflies (2005), Spin & Drift (2001), and Heyday (1997). Perhaps the most harmonically astute bassist on the NY scene, Drew commands both the high and low extremes of the bass, combining "fat" sound and a sure groove with the kind of solo facility that only a virtuoso has. One of the most in demand bassists anywhere, he joined Copland for 5 years, touring and recording for ECM in the late guitarist John Abercrombie's quartet. Other credits Ralph Alessi, Tim Berne, Don Byron, Uri Caine, Bill Carrothers, Ravi Coltrane, Marc Copland, Jack deJohnette, Mark Feldman, Fred Hersch, John Hollenbeck, Tony Malaby, and John Surman.
The press often refers to Jonas Burgwinkel as one of the leading young percussion players of the European Jazzscene. Apart from the work with his own projects „Medusa Beats“ and „Side B“ he is known for his longstanding work with the „Pablo Held Trio“. He frequently performs with great artists like John Scofield, Chris Potter, Mark Murphy, Lee Konitz, Dave Douglas, Ralph Towner, Uri Caine, John Taylor and Dave Liebman. His awards include the renown “ECHO JAZZ” as best drummer „Best Soloist” on the European Jazz Competition at the North Sea Jazzfestival the prestigous “WDR JAZZPREIS” and “SWR JAZZPREIS” in Germany among others. Burgwinkel also holds the drum Professor chair at the reknown “Hochschule für Musik und Tanz Köln”. During his young career he has already recorded over 60 jazz albums and toured and recorded worldwide in numerous different settings.