Sunday, October 24, 2010

Piano Up Front

Tepfer, Dan Trio - Five Pedals Deep CD Cover Art CD music music CDs songs album
Five Pedals Deep - Dan Tepfer Trio (Sunnyside Records) -Young Mr. Tepfer's playing is quite impressive, especially his work with Lee Konitz and on the Rob Garcia 4's "Perennial" (issued late last year on BJU Records.) He does not try and blow you away with technique; melody is his forte. On initial listening to this new release (his first with the rhythm section of drummer Ted Poor and bassist Thomas Morgan), the music sounded highly influenced by the Brad Mehldau and Radiohead but, as the music sunk in, I began to hear so much more. The interaction of the trio, the way Morgan holds the bottom allowing Poor to drive the faster pieces, the manner in which Tepfer inhabits the music, seemingly playing from the inside out. The fire of "Peal, Repeal" comes not only from the bustling rhythm section but also from the way the pianist builds the melody from the repetitive figures in his left hand. The drone in the piano figure on "All I Heard Was Nothing" tugs at the listener,  the long right-hand runs over Poor's rampaging drums makes you listen - you want to follow this journey.  The ballads are equally affecting; the Satie-like melody line on "The Distance", a piece that slows down as the rhythm gets jagged for a short but melodically generous bass solo, opens like a flower. The program also features 5 solo piano pieces.  The brief "Interludes" range from meditations to angular explorations - all were recorded at home and were conceived as exercises.  "Body and Soul" closes the program and Tepfer digs right in; the piece seems to become more contemplative as it moves forward, softening slowly on the way to the final chords.
"Five Pedals Deep" is thoughtful, playful, at times dark but never dull. This is music to play over and over, allowing the notes to gently rain down upon you.  For more information, go to

Simple Songs - For When The World Seems Strange Simple Songs (For When the World Seems Strange) - Jeremy Siskind (BJU Records) - Siskind is another young pianist who is beginning to make people sit up and take notice.  His music is neither brash nor confrontational yet it's not as simple as the title of the program may lead one to believe.  As with Dan Tepfer's Trio, Ted Poor is here to incite riotous rhythmic adventures from his seat behind the trap set. Bassist Chris Lightcap is both melodic and forceful; his "swinging" solo on "The Fates" is impressive and his support is flawless.  Vocalist Jo Lawry appears on several tracks, from the prayerful "Hymn of Thanks" (sounding like a tune written by her 2010 employer, Sting, save for the bluesy piano solo in the middle) to her wordless vocal duo dance with Siskind on "Six Minute Tango" (that clocks in at under 4 minutes - go figure.) The latter track combines touches of Louis Moreau Gottschalk with Carla Bley and is pure joy. Lawry's lovely voice sounds waif-like and angelic on "Little Love Song", another duet with the richly melodic piano. After Lawry reads the melody, Siskind creates a world that mirrors her innocence and hope. The pianist goes it alone on "The Inevitable Letdown", displaying a left hand that would make Earl "Fatha" Hines sit up and applaud while creating a melody that struts and sashays.
The "bonus track" is a jazzy take on "The Candy Man" that is most "satisfying and delicious", a joyous romp with splashy cymbals, a short yet melodic bass solo and a "cool" final section with Poor holding court above the gentle piano chords until the final "zing."
I know there are a million-or-so piano trios but Jeremy Siskind (and Dan Tepfer above) proves there is always room for more.  A most impressive debut and one only hopes there are many more adventures to come.  For more information, go to
Enjoy a track from the CD courtesy of IODA Promonet and BJU Records.

The Inevitable Letdown (mp3)

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