Jeremy Siskind – Simple Songs For When The World Seems Strange – BJURecords

by | Oct 13, 2010 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Jeremy Siskind – Simple Songs For When The World Seems Strange – BJURecords BJUR020, 55:39 ****½:

(Jeremy Siskind – piano; Jo Lawry – voice; Chris Lightcap – bass; Ted Poor – drums)

When Jeremy Siskind appeared on NPR’s Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland, it was obvious that an emerging talent had arrived. After years of study and training, he began an ascent into the New York jazz scene, performing and recording with Chris Potter and Marcus Printup. Possessing a natural penchant for song context and legitimate playing skill, he was a welcome addition to Brooklyn Jazz Underground.

Simple Songs For When The World Seems Strange is an auspicious debut. Consisting of ten original pieces and one cover, this is an introspective reflection of everyday life and its philosophical contexts. An ethereal moodiness highlights the opening track, “Venice”, a solo piano effort that showcases the nimble melodic touch of Siskind. The trio configuration appears to be the most effective vehicle for the project. “The Fates” embellishes a “Cool” era vibe with excellent interplay accentuated with nimble bass solos (Chris Lightcap) and gradual tempo variations. A bluesy “The Inevitable Letdown” maintains its breezy pace with a piano lead that exemplifies precision, not unlike Count Basie or Art Tatum. The sparkling title song is an expressive gospel ballad that gives the trio ample room for improvisation. Ted Poor’s drumming is crisp and provides a steady backdrop to this evocative ballad. On a more eclectic note, “Firstness” is arranged in march-time, with spontaneous inflections and a rousing crescendo. The inclusion of a bonus track, “Candy Man” (Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley) commits to a traditional jazz arrangement, infused with flawless, harmonic piano runs that sustain a high level of fluidity and interpretive skill. 

Guest artist Jo Lawry (most recently reviewed on Sting’s Symphonicities) brings a supple aesthetic to the mix with her beautiful voice in duets with Siskind. On “Hymn Of Thanks”, her vocal blends seamlessly with the piano, reminiscent of the Sarah McLaughlin/Randy Newman collaboration, “When She Loved Me” from Toy Story 2.  A lighthearted freedom permeates the “Six Minute Tango” as Lawry’s scat-laden intonations are set against the ebullient chords.

The narrative of simplicity, attributed to the title of this CD is misleading. The music is rich in texture and nuance, and delves into improvisation with sophisticated constructs. Jeremy Siskind’s career as a composer and bandleader is off to a rousing start.
Venice; The Fates; Hymn Of Thanks; Firstness; Audrey’s Song; Six Minute Tango; The Inevitable Letdown; Simple Song (For When The World Seems Strange); A Single Moment; Little Love Song; The Candy Man.

—  Robbie Gerson

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