Michael Kocour

Wherever You Go, There You Are

oa2 22119

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Mark Sullivan, All About Jazz

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For this solo piano project Kocour chose to emphasize standards. But it's neither a straightforward mainstream program, nor an aggressively experimental one. Kocour is a brilliant technician, but he never uses technique to show off - only to tell a story. Dizzy Gillespie's "Con Alma" opens the set, with so much independence between the hands that it's almost a duet. "Winter's Spell" is the first original, a more conventional approach to a tune that sounds like a standard. Then Clare Fisher's "Pensativa" introduces a new wrinkle, the first of three tracks performed on Fender Rhodes electric piano. It's an interesting contrast, and a tune well suited to the instrument. Kocour says that he tried this tune (and the later Eddie Harris one) on acoustic piano first, but wasn't satisfied with the results. The electric instrument also has associations with this repertoire: Eddie Harris and James Moody both made recordings featuring it.

Kocour's fresh approach to the standards really comes into focus on "Just In Time," which opens with a busy accompaniment pattern, revealing the melody slowly: it's a minute or so into the three-minute track before we hear the whole thing. Eddie Harris's "Freedom Jazz Dance" brings back the electric piano for a funky arrangement especially suited to the Rhodes. The title tune (another Kocour original) comes from a saying James Moody often used to conclude stories told onstage. Something about this recalls Chick Corea - not a comparison that occurred to me before this track - but it also includes some very traditional walking bass accompaniment. It's easy to believe that Kocour has also recorded on organ, which frequently takes the bass role. Thelonious Monk's "Evidence" closes the set, another reference (like "Squiggles" on the Sextet album) to the seminal bebop pianist and composer who Kocour earlier spotlighted on the album Speaking in Tongues (Tempest, 2006). It's a gentle, slightly abstract treatment, which again includes walking bass in one section.

The pianist on this solo project is readily identifiable from the Sextet recording: swinging mainstream jazz piano. But it's an interesting view of Kocour's creative range when free of accompanying duties, and it's a broad range indeed.






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