Marc Copland: So What
Marc Copland (piano)
New York Trio Recordings, Vol. 3: Night Whispers (Pirouet PIT3037)
Recorded: Englewood, NJ, June 2008
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Pianist/composer Marc Copland and his trio's interpretation of Miles Davis's "So What" doesn't jibe with the expected. Sure, Drew Gress's opening bass pattern is familiar. (You can compare it with Miles's arrangement, circa five years after his original recording, for as long as YouTube maintains this clip of his 1964 appearance on the Steve Allen Show.) But that pretty much ends the similarities. Copland takes the staccato opening chords, makes some minor, adds legato and a spacey feel. Miles's approach was direct. Copland comes in through a crack in a side door. His notes waft head-high to be breathed in. The tune's midsection features a long and exploratory Gress solo, as drummer Bill Stewart brushes his way through. Copland, a truly gifted musician and interpreter, then offers a lengthy melancholic mood to song's end. The famous head of the arrangement is never revisited. It just floats in the air of your memory.
I don't know about you, but I love the unexpected. The more surprising a jazz standard's treatment, the better. Taking a musical masterpiece to places previously unknown is the sign of someone, or a group, unsatisfied with playing by rote. Copland and his New York Trio take this music out for a long and rewarding walk. I suggest you tag along.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky