Jason Moran - Modernistic
Bob James - Restless
Jason Rebello - Make It Real
Diana Krall - The Girl in the Other Room
Brad Mehldau - Largo
Michel Camilo - Thru My Eyes
Herbie Hancock – Rockit
Herbie Hancock – Watermelon Man
Jeff Lorber – State of Grace
Jason Rebello – Beautiful Day
Jason Rebello – Summertime
Freddie Ravel – Piano Sensual
Joe Sample – Street Life
Bob James – Farandole (L'Arlesienne Suite #2)
Herbie Hancock – A Song for You (feat. Christina Aguilera)
I decided not to write about legendary Bill Evans simply because he’s a legend and everything’s already written about him. And you won’t find here Monty Alexander...
1. Mr power – Jason Moran
I got to know him only a few weeks ago but was momentarily blown away by the might and force of his music. He’s just released a new album, “Same mother” but I want especially to mark his gorgeous Planet Rock, which easily can represent the whole definition of the phrase *modern jazz*.
2. Mr Genius - Brad Mehldau
Again, heard of him at least 4 years ago but decided to have a look at him only now. Once I began to play his 2002 CD Brad Mehldau - Largo, I simply can’t push stop. Brad mixes in his music classical jazz elements with some new hooks, adds some classical *Chopin* sound and what we get is just a pleasure, not even music!
3. Mr Smooth - David Benoit
He was “My first”. The first piano player I came across. Thanks to his buddy, saxophonist Dave Koz. I can recommend it to jazz beginners, who are not prepared for Bill Evans’ meditations, deep improvisations and essential jazz elements. David’s smart enough not to get down towards pop instrumental, he’s got the right feeling how make the music smooth but jazzy.
4. Mr Funk - Jeff Lorber
Yes, as mentioned above, funk dominates in his music. That is why rare funky-missing tunes, which slip between these grooves, such as Jeff Lorber – State of Grace from the album of the same name, colour the rest of compositions and form a really pleasant impression from the whole music.
5. Mr Movie - Dave Grusin
Oh he’s simply great, once I watched his GRP all star big band gig on DVD, featuring also Lee Ritenour, Diane Schuur and some other great guys, I fell in love with this Harrison Ford-looking daddy. Most of all I love his collaborations with Lee Ritenour, which… which awake some kinda nostalgia in me. I begin to remember the holy 80-ies which I.. hehe lived only 3 years in.
6. Mr Classy - Joe Sample
My all time fave. Beginning with his 70-ies soul funk and ending now with contemporary jazz, Joe has never come across himself. His music is truly a sample – an example of how one should play the piano. He’s got a distinctive manner of playing and you will never confuse him with anyone. He’s always been the one and the first in his category. Always on top of style and quality. Who else can cover his own composition (I mean Joe Sample – Street Life) a zillion times and each time get the unique result!
7. Mr Experiment - Herbie Hancock
Yesterday he invented acid jazz ( Herbie Hancock – Rockit, today he writes a jazz standart ( Herbie Hancock – Watermelon Man, tomorrow he’s nominated on Grammy for his collaboration with Christina Aguilera (Herbie Hancock – A Song for You (feat. Christina Aguilera)). What a guy, hah!
8. Mr Hook - Freddie Ravel
This pianist is not very popular as a solo performer, but he worked with thousands of contemporary jazz performers from Peter White to whatever. Well, he turned out to be a good student – his own records are the brilliant examples of smooth, but soulful latin jazz. Each of his compositions has that kinda hooks that attract your ear, easy to remember, hard to forget, and makes the song bright and unique. And his fabulous Freddie Ravel – Piano Sensual is one of my all time faves, a great tune, so emotional and powerful and still so easy to listen to!
9. Mr Latino - Michel Camilo
I’m just trying to guess what this guy is all about but I can say now that he’s got a great taste and a very important skill of knowing how to cover a standarts.
10. Mr Avant-garde - Bob James
Oh he can play anything and it will sound great. He can run to his band FourPlay, which also features Larry Carlton, Lee Ritenour and some other well-known jazz guys, and play some rhytm’n’bluesy (not r’n’b!!) FourPlay - Goin’ Back Home, the he can invite Dave Koz and play some smooth Morning, Noon and Night, finally he goes live and covers Georges Bizet’s classical Bob James – Farandole (L'Arlesienne Suite #2). His albums are worth listening from beginning to end, or better a number of albums without a break. And it’s simply great.
11. Mr UK – Jason Rebello
Really, the first non-US performer in this list. And the only one. Well, he plays a true British jazz, white and foggy, but with sun coming through the rainy clouds (for example, his Jason Rebello – Beautiful Day. Originally he was famous among musicians by working with Sting and Chris Botti. And his amazing cover of Jason Rebello – Summertime, that features Maysa and (!) Maxi Jazz from Faithless was a huge hit back in 1997.
Eh and finally some space for ladies.
We have here Ms New Age Keiko Matsui, but I can’t say anything of her here, cuz I saw her live and she’s so amazing that I can’t judge openly:)
Another Japanese pianist is Hiromi, which I would call Ms technique. She’s playing faster than possible. And her music is a powerful mixture of modern a-la Moran jazz and some rocky elements.
Finally let’s not forget Diana Krall, who plays not worse than sings and she gets here double points cuz she manages to do 2 things at one time, both incredibly. And again I saw her live, which… heh, even 3 points here!
Oh, I can’t believe it’s over;))) Still more brilliant piano and non-piano music to come.
Ah, and here are some albums by mentioned artists, especially loved and recommended by me;)
Jason Moran – Modernistic
Bob James – Restless
Herbie Hancock – Gershwin’s World
Jason Rebello – Make It Real
Michel Camilo – Thru My Eyes
David Benoit – Right Here Right Now
Joe Sample – Sample This
Freddie Ravel – Freddie Ravel
Diana Krall – The Girl In The Other Room
Hiromi – Another Mind
Keiko Matsui – Full Moon and Shrine
Dave Grusin – presents the West Side Story
Jeff Lorber – Philly Style
Brad mehldau – Day is Done