Paul Ellingson: Artistry in Rhythm


Artistry in Rhythm


Paul Ellingson (piano)


Solo Jazz Piano, Vol. 1 (Ivy Jazz)


Paul Ellingson (piano).

Composed by Stan Kenton


Recorded: Salt Lake City, Utah, early 1980s


Rating: 95/100 (learn more)

Yes, Ellingson, not Ellington. The late Paul Ellingson (1938-2005) was an aesthetic gadfly out-of-place in a Salt Lake City that never recognized his talents. But Ellingson didn't make it easy for those trying to come to grips with his personal artistry in rhythm. Sometimes he focused his energies on the visual arts (his painting and sketches illustrate his Solo Jazz Piano release), at other times he stirred things up as an architectural critic, or tried to rewrite music theory with his radical ideas on harmony. But his creativity was perhaps best served when he sat down at the piano and improvised. Under different circumstances he might have gained recognition as one of the most expressive jazz pianists of his generation, a true poet of the keyboard. Instead he left us only one -- ridiculously hard to find -- recording of solo piano music. Seek it out and enjoy his ruminative, highly intelligent recreations of standards and original compositions. Ellingson's nuanced reworking of Stan Kenton's theme song, "Artistry in Rhythm," is a revelation, showing the fragile beauty inside the grandiloquence of the big band anthem. A pristine reminder of a musician who never found his audience, but (in Brando's famous words from On the Waterfront) "could've been a contender."

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

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