Jazz CD Reviews
Ron Di Salvio – Essence of Green – A Tribute to Kind of Blue – Origin Records
Published on September 24, 2007
(Ron Di Salvio, piano; Jimmy Cobb, drums; Derrick Gardner, trumpet; Diego Rivera, tenor sax; Pat Terbrack, alto sax; Ken Morgan, flute & baritone sax; Rodney Whitaker, bass; + Vocal quartet)
A most interesting concept is behind this CD. Pianist/composer Di Salvio – who studied with Lennie Tristano – sought to do an album along the lines of the historic Miles Davis/Bill Evans Kind of Blue. That landmark 1959 recording has been reissued in countless forms, had two books written about its making, and its complete score is now available – including all the various soloists’ improvisations. All ten tracks are Di Salvio originals working with the basic elements of melody, modality and harmonic progression found in the classic Davis jazz sextet – which had included Jimmy Cobb on drums. For example, Six Shades of Green uses Paul Chambers’ bass rhythm with chord clusters similar to those played by Bill Evans in the introduction to All Blues. Where the original used two Dorian mode tonal centers, Di Salvio’s piece utilizes six. Cobb’s drum beat recalls the hypnotic beat of the All Blues original track. (Kevin Bacon is not involved.) But it’s more than just a head-trip tribute; this is a very listenable and swinging album.
The title track Essence of Green was directly inspired by Bill Evan’s Blue in Green on the Miles album and Crossing Lines was inspired by the Wynton Kelly solo on Freddie the Freeloader. The melody of the atmospheric Miles Davis/Bill Evans Reunion in the Sky comes from the general musical sense of the Miles album. Di Salvio’s notes say nothing about the vocal quartet’s contributions on several of the tracks, but although there was nothing like that on Kind of Blue, I kind of dug it. It was difficult to understand much of the lyrics, but they fit into the arrangements beautifully and add a nice touch with a Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan feeling.
TrackList: Six Shades of Green, Crossing Lines, Green Pasture, Primavera, Cobb’s Throb, Miles Davis/Bill Evans Reunion in the Sky, Good Morning Santa Cruz, Arcadia, Wasabi
– John Henry