Free Yourself in Jazz

It’s really hard to talk about myself as an artist.  I play music specifically because it says things that words can’t.  But after 19 years, there are a few markers that I guess you could call my “style”.

In – Out

Despite the best advice of my various (all outstanding and learned) piano teachers over the years, I never was able to restrain myself at the keyboard.  This led to a sort of “in-out” style – I hit the changes sometimes, but sometimes I improvise in a non-chordal free space that may be rhythmically or, à la Ornette, harmonically linked to the tune, or might have an entirely different type of sound/time organization.  Sometimes the rhythm section gets off on the Wobbly Rail with me, and sometimes they doggedly swing on.  Here, on a track from the 2012 Shrine Big Band album Swamp Music (see the Albums page of this website) is an example: a tune called “Cecilian Mafia” in homage to Cecil Taylor.  The first solo is Justin Wood on tenor sax, and piano is next.  Motoki Mihara (bass) and Jon Panikkar (drums) are the hard-as-nails rhythm section:

Then a 2014 bootleg recording with my Zoom microphone of a live gig at The Firehouse Space with a great quartet featuring my friend the saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer along with bassist Pascal Niggenkemper and drummer Ehran Elisha.

The Shrine Big Band

That powerhouse band you hear in gorgeous studio sound on the first post is my most recent, most favorite project, the latest in a series of collaborations between me and Jon dating back to 1996.  Appearing the first Sunday of every month at The Shrine,, a landmark of the new Harlem music scene at 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd (between 133rd and 134th).  The five years (so far…) of our residency as the “house band” at The Shrine have been an incredibly fertile period of collaborative composition, arrangement, improvisation, and conducting, aka traffic-direction.  Although The Shrine Big Band is essentially a live band (each month’s performance is a not-to-be-missed experience!), we are really proud of our album – please consider buying it (see information on Albums page) now that you’ve heard the free sample above!