Cool Cat Blues comes from his hotly anticipated and soon to be released third collection Adventures & Accolades.
I will review the collection once it’s available, but in the meantime here’s a preview of Cool Cat Blues, an astutely observed jazz piece for the intermediate player; those looking for fresh material that will get their toes tapping are in for a treat!
And here’s your free promotional copy of the sheet music to this piece, courtesy of Editions Musica Ferrum:
All products featured on Pianodao are independently selected by Andrew Eales. However, when you buy something through the site’s retail links, Pianodao may earn a small commission, without affecting the price you pay.
June Armstrong is not only one of the UK’s most creative composers, but one of the most prolific. Having only reviewed her Dreams and Dragons last December, she’s already now back with her next publication, Take Ten.
Capitalising on the immense popularity of her piece Dusty Blue, recently a Grade 2 favourite here, Armstrong’s new book delivers 14 brand new ‘Jazz Miniatures’ for piano solo, suitable for elementary players.
With so many competing publications in this territory, and the prevalence of jazzy pastiche, it’s inevitable that Take Ten is a less musically distinctive collection than some Armstrong publications.
But I have no doubt that it will be a best-seller, and deservedly so, because it’s excellent and has some cool twists…
Over the years, Iles has also contributed to the ABRSM Jazz Piano Syllabus and composed several memorable pieces for the board’s standard piano grades, which are always popular choices. And now she’s back with two new books of jazz pieces for ABRSM, between them bringing 29 new piano solos to the intermediate and advanced repertoire, composed and arranged by Iles and a stellar array of luminaries of the contemporary jazz world.
With the drawing power of Iles and friends, and the marketing clout of ABRSM, these two books are sure to fly off the shelves, so let’s take a closer look while we can!
While there’s a growing number of good published resources for the keen jazz student these days, most are aimed at the serious adult player, and in many cases too-quickly get embroiled in complicated jazz theory. Meanwhile, for young players who enjoy “jazzy pieces” and want to explore the style, there’s long been a gap in the market.
Jazz Piano for Kids, new from ace jazz educator Richard Michael and published by Hal Leonard, aims to fill that gap.
Introducing the book, Michael writes,
“Welcome to Jazz Piano for Kids and your very first steps in making up your own solos. What do you need? Apart from a piano or keyboard, just two hands, two wide-open ears, and the ability to have a go without fear of making mistakes. This beginner’s course will give you the building blocks of playing jazz on the piano… Before you know it, you will be improvising your own solos and starting a lifetime’s discovery in the wonderful world of jazz.”
Bob Chilcott will be known to many readers for his lifelong association with choral music, first as a chorister and choral scholar in the choir of King’s College, Cambridge, and for 12 years as a member of the King’s Singers.
Chilcott became a full-time composer in 1997, and has produced a large catalogue of music for all types of choirs which is published by Oxford University Press. His most often performed pieces includeA Little Jazz Mass, Requiem, and Can you hear me?
Brad Mehldau is not simply one of the true greats of jazz piano, but one of the most interesting composers, collaborators and creators in the contemporary music scene.
Every release of his is special, and this year we are fortunate to have two in close succession, the brilliant quartet album RoundAgainwith Joshua Redman, Christian McBride and Brian Blade and, the subject of this review, Suite: April 2020, an intimate solo set comprising twelve pieces improvised in response to the lockdown of March/April 2020, plus three concluding bonus cover versions.
Suite: April 2020 appeared digitally almost immediately back in the late spring, and the physical CD album arrived this Autumn:
Over the last three years, Faber Music seemed to establish a pattern of releasing deluxe Piano Anthologies in the run up to the Christmas season. For 2020, they have ‘upped the ante’ by bringing forward the next title in this stunning series to the Spring, with further anthologies (Contemporary and Easy) already in preparation.
The Faber Music Jazz Piano Anthology builds on the quality of its predecessors to deliver a sumptuous and brilliantly conceived book of jazz standards, newly arranged as piano solos for more advanced students and adult piano enthusiasts everywhere.
New releases are usually a bit thin on the ground in January and this has proved true again in 2020, the respite providing the perfect chance to revisit the best albums of the last year.
2019 was a solid year for new jazz piano releases, many of which I have enjoyed repeatedly. Highlights have included Keith Jarrett’s superb Munich 2016 recording, Ahmad Jamal’s gorgeous Ballades, Abdullah Ibrahim’s Dream Time and Chick Corea’s double live trio CD Trilogy 2.
My personal favourite of the many good recent jazz albums has to be Hiromi Uehara’s Spectrum, however.
Following a succession of brilliant trio, ensemble and collaboration albums, Spectrum is Hiromi’s first solo piano studio album for a decade, and is a remarkable musical tour de force.
Speaking to The Japan Times, Hiromi said of the recording,
“As a pianist, making a solo album is really like, kind of being naked. There is nowhere to hide. There is no other instrument to play with in order to cover the sound. It’s really challenging, but at the same time, it’s the best way to fully enjoy this instrument… It’s like having a conversation with myself. I can be really free, if there is nobody there to restrain me. I can go anywhere that I want in improvisation.”