Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Piano Jazz Masters Team Up For an Unlikely Collaboration at Bryant Park

Twin piano performances are even rarer in jazz than in classical music, so what happened last night at Bryant Park was as improbable as it was stunningly tight and conversational. Jazz pianists aren’t used to listening to each other onstage, but Orrin Evans and Aaron Diehl did plenty of that while working methodical, tidal ebbs and flows, with plenty of moments of solo expression in over an hour worth of music including some special guests.

The game plan seemed to be for each artist to give the other a wide berth for solos, backing away for simple basslines and rhythmic accents. As the night began, Diehl seemed to be going more for stride and the neoromantic while Evans worked a familiar crushing, clustering attack. But then the two switched roles in a split second, Diehl matter-of-factly developing variations on a bassline. Then Evans went further outside as Diehl methodically ushered in a hypnotic lull. Calmly and resolutely, Evans’ churning, vamping phrases built sturdy support for a wry cha-cha from his bandmate.

Evans took a breather while Diehl took his time assembling an expansively fond ballad out of thoughtful, judicious upward cascades interspersed with lots of space. And then gracefully handed off to Evans, who took the song into thornier terrain before Diehl joined back in with a spare bluesiness. They wound it down slowly to a virtual whisper until Evans’ quasi-boogie lefthand finally subsided.

Evans began the next number solo with leaping righthand against a murky, modal left. Diehl took a handoff and immediately went into reflecting-pool, resonant mode to launch a series of scrambles and a stygian atmosphere before Evans returned…on the mic! He gave a calm, soulful reverence to a “force that lives eternally, like the waves of a restless sea.”

Diehl took over again with Stella’s Groove, a dedication to his mother, winding his way into a firm, gospel-tinged stroll – this is one formidable mom! The brief parade of guest artists began with Benjamin Collins-Siegel on piano and Alberto Caravacca on trumpet doing a fluent, straightforward version of Ellington’s Take the Coltrane, Diehl joining in to bolster the piano lefthand

Then Helen Sung took over Evans’s piano for a jaunty, modally-fueled duet with Diehl on an alternately romping and judicious take of Rhythm N’ing. Diehl brought it up and out with a rumble, bolstered by Ted Rosenthal in the F clef.

There’s more jazz at Bryant Park tonight, Sept 9 at 7 PM with trumpeter Summer Camargo leading an octet.

September 9, 2022 - Posted by | concert, jazz, Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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