Fri, 30 April 2010
West Coast pianist Eric Muhler is one of those musicians who has been around seemingly forever, but never broken through to wide success. He began with a rock and blues background, before morphing into a top jazz keyboard player. The 1980’s saw Muhler performing as a member in two exceptional progressive jazz groups – the Mobius Band with guitarist Jim Slick, and Quiet Fire, with ex-Miles Davis guitarist Dave Creamer and saxophonist Larry Schneider. Muhler cites his time with Creamer as among his most broadening experiences, and there is little wonder why, since the guitarist has been called “absolutely the most fantastic guitar player alive in America…" by no less an authority than George Benson.
However, Muhler soon left the spotlight, marrying, earning a degree in English Literature, and then being a “house dad” for his daughters for a number of years. But he never stopped writing, or playing.
A new century has Muhler back on the scene, and a fine new CD, The Jury is Out. Podcast 181 features an interview I had with the pianist in late 2009, with songs from the many stages of his career, including:
Eric Muhler Quartet – “Punkly“ from The Jury is Out. His latest outing expands his core trio to a quartet with the addition of saxophonist Sheldon Brown,
Eric Muhler Quartet – “Sand Castles“ from The Jury is Out
Eric Muhler Trio – “Sand Castles” from Live at the Jazz School. This live recording shows the Muhler Trio - Muhler on Piano, Michael Wilcox on Bass, and Rob Gibson on Drums – able to use the trio format with great facility and verve. Muhler’s playing is reminiscent of McCoy Tyner as he steps out front and center.
Eric Muhler – “All of You” from Something New. He is equally adept at solo piano stylings, as here he turns in a contemplative and subtle start to a classic composition, and then takes off from there for a flight worthy of Keith Jarrett at his solo best.
Fri, 30 April 2010
It’s almost May, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t spin a new version of the Vernon Duke-Yip Harburg standard “April in Paris”. Click here to listen to cabaret stars Kenny Soderblom and his wife, Leah McCoy Soderblom, sing a simple but stirring version of the classic.
April in Paris is the title of their latest CD, and it’s full of well-known songs, touching on Michel Legrand (“How Do You Keep the Music Playing”), Henry Mancini (“Moon River”) , and Brazilian gems from Antonio Carlos Jobim (“Caminhous Cruzados”) and Ivan Lins (“The Island”). Kenny Soderblom blows a warm and inviting sax, and the The rhythm section of Mark Neuenschwander (bass), LaRue Nickelson (guitar) and Chuck Parr on drums band, swings subtly behind him. The sax solo on “You Stepped Out of a Dream” is particularly memorable.
Leah Soderblom’s vocals are without pretention or pyrotechnics, as she settles for a romantic glow around the material. She is obviously comfortable with the material, and yet never lets it get stale. Her tongue is firmly in cheek with a closing medley of “Lulu’s Back in Town/Spinning Wheel”, and her approach to “How Do You Keep the Music Playing” is unique and memorable.
According to the wonderful web site Jazzstandards.com, “April in Paris,” first appeared in the 1932 Broadway revue Walk a Little Faster. This was the first time Vernon Duke had written a complete score for a show, and “April in Paris” was not originally a part of it. Set designer Boris Aronson had created a Left Bank setting for a number, and the producers wanted a romantic song. Duke and some friends and collaborators were having a discussion when someone (purportedly Dorothy Parker) expressed a longing to be in Paris during the month of April. The rest, as they say, is history.
Category:general -- posted at: 4:06am EDT