One night only at Regatta Bar, Cambridge MA
Internationally acclaimed Boston-based jazz pianist and composer Laszlo Gardony, one of the most expressive and technically skilled pianists working in jazz today, performs on Thursday, September 13 at The Regattabar, Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St., Cambridge. Joining Gardony will be saxophonist Don Braden, bassist John Lockwood, and drummer Yoron Israel. Concert at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $24, students $19. For information call 617-395-7757 or visit http://www.getshowtix.com/regattabar/moreinfo.cgi?id=4006.
A formidable improviser who lives in the moment” (JazzTimes), Gardony has performed in 27 countries and released a dozen albums on the Sunnyside, Antilles, and Avenue labels during his distinguished, decades-long career. Winner of the Great American Jazz Piano Competition, Gardony has been noted for his “fluid pianism” by The New York Times. The legendary Dave Brubeck called him “a great pianist.”
His latest solo piano album Serious Play (Sunnyside) was named one of the Best Jazz Albums of 2017 by DownBeat Magazine: “Serious Play combines spontaneity and intent. Improvised in the studio, it’s a harmonious, emotionally intense whole that sounds like a concert rather than an arbitrary collection of tunes. No matter how busy Gardony becomes, there’s a stillness at the center of his music, a distinctive amalgam of central European folk strains, majestic classical piano and improvisational fearlessness.” Both Serious Play and Gardony’s 2015 live sextet album Life In Real Time were named by the Boston Globe as one of the “10 Best Jazz Releases of the Year.” Don Braden, who will be performing with Gardony at the September 13 Regattabar concert, was one of three saxophonists, along with Bill Pierce and Stan Strickland, to play on Life in Real Time.
Other artists Gardony has performed and/or recorded with include Dave Holland, Miroslav Vitous, Bob Moses, Mick Goodrick, Yoron Israel, John Lockwood, and Jamey Haddad. In addition to his own recordings on Sunnyside, Antilles and Avenue, his compositions, arrangements and playing have been featured on jazz releases from Blue Note, Accurate, Rounder, and Ronja Music. A Professor of Piano at Berklee College of Music, Gardony continues to divide his time between composing, recording, concerts and teaching, committed to living an inspired, truthful, and productive life in music.
Gardony created most of the music for his new solo album Serious Play (Sunnyside Records) spontaneously in the studio, with a few soulful reimaginations of beloved standards added, providing a potent reminder that the longtime Berklee College of Music professor is one of jazz’s most emotionally trenchant and melodically inventive solo piano practitioners. It’s his 12th album and 9th recording for Sunnyside.
Possessing a ravishing touch and a singular style that draws on the post-bop continuum, various strains of folk music and his Central European classical training, he “went into the studio with two goals that went hand in hand,” says Gardony, who couldn’t help but carry with him an acute sense of rising anxiety in the country. “One goal was to sit down and improvise for an extended amount of time,” revisiting the compositional approach that led to Clarity, his celebrated 2013 solo piano session. “The other was to organically connect that soul-baring material to soul soothing arrangements of beloved standards.
“In the studio, I asked Paul, the sound engineer, to keep the recorder running. There was the sense that this is again the right time to let spontaneous improvisation unfold and express my feelings about our times and my responsibilities in it, thereby adding my voice to our collective conversation.”
He opens and closes Serious Play with familiar standards reimagined, what Jackie McLean called “new wine in old bottles.” He starts his journey with a sublime meditation on Hoagy Carmichael’s “Georgia on My Mind” that builds on a melody that drips with longing. He follows with the album’s longest track, a caressing exploration of Coltrane’s sublime ballad “Naima” that builds between meditation and tension with his rumbling left-hand figures driving his solo, contrasting with his peaceful statement of the melody.
As Gardony writes about recording this album, “music has a direct effect on our emotions and also on our well-being. What we need at all times – but perhaps now even more – is a clear mind, so we can assess our reality accurately, energy, so we can take positive and protective action, and of course, courage, fearlessness…With this CD my focus was on strengthening us so we can be resilient and resistant, and also on washing away any fatigue, doubt, or desperation we may feel.”
“I always have a reason I make an album,” Gardony says. “It has to be something new. When I was a kid I really appreciated progressive rock, Bartok, folk music, and of course jazz and blues. With all of those musics, people never step into the same river twice.”
At a time of hunger for reason and thirst for peace of mind, Serious Play arrives like an energizing meal, accompanied by a tall drink of pure, clean water.