Michael Kocour, solo piano – Speaking in Tongues – Tempest

by | Jun 4, 2007 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Michael Kocour, solo piano – Speaking in Tongues – Tempest, 50:31 [www.Michael Kocour.com] ****:

(Michael Kocour, piano; Dwight Kilian, bass; Dom Moio, drums)

Pianist Kocour was part of the Chicago jazz scene for 20 years and now directs the jazz programs at Arizona State University.  In the Windy City he worked with visiting jazz stars, and one of them  – Benny Golson – provides a very positive testimonial to the “careful yet fearless choice of notes and intervals” Kocour presents in his playing.

The theme of the 11 tracks is the music of Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell.  They were both at the center of the group of jazz insurrectionists who forged bebop and modern jazz in the 1940s, and both had highly individual and complex styles of their own. Monk seems awkward and simple vs. the complexity and virtuosity of Powell’s music, but they were actually very close in many ways. Kocour switches back and forth between tunes by the two jazz giants, though a couple times there are two Monk selections in a row. My favorite was the longest track on the CD, a medley of Monk’s tribute to the wealthy baroness who helped support him – Pannonica – and Kenny Clarke’s Epistrophy – the only piece here by another composer.  Kocour gives a very sophisticated and fresh twist to these mostly often-heard jazz standards.  His harmonic designs seem to be the most individual element in his unique sound.

TrackList: Un Poco Loco, Ugly Beauty, Think of One, Wail, Ask me Now, Bye-Ya, Oblivion, Pannonica/Epistrophy, Parisian Thoroughfare, Four in One, Dusk in Sandi

 – John Henry

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