Mitchel Forman: My Foolish Heart

I can never say enough great things about Mitchel Forman. To me, he is one the best interpretive piano players and composers we have today. You put him together with legends drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Eddie Gomez to play the music of Bill Evans, and you get magic all over again.

Evans didn't write "My Foolish Heart," but it was part of his repertoire. Forman adds his own introduction on this performance. I'd pay just to hear that short section. Forman plays a beautiful "My Foolish Heart." DeJohnette gently brushes his cymbals as Gomez adds melodic accents by sliding up and down the neck of his bass and finishing the pianist's runs. This is just damn lovely stuff performed by an overly gifted Evans admirer and a rhythm section that truly knew the man and his music in an intimate way. I challenge anyone not to get lost in it. From the quality of this performance, I would say DeJohnette and Gomez came to know Mitchel Forman as well.

November 18, 2008 · 0 comments


Jazz Arts Trio: My Foolish Heart

I have been suggesting for years that jazz, even fusion, will eventually be treated as classical music. I am pleased to discover that the Jazz Arts Trio, accomplished in both the classical and jazz fields, has already begun that process. After playing together as high-school students, these superb musicians took different routes, yet three decades later found themselves together again. For this project, they painstakingly transcribed some of the greatest jazz piano trio performances ever captured, then re-created every note and accent live for their CD Tribute.

The band's reenactment of one of the greatest jazz ballads, "My Foolish Heart," replicates the Bill Evans Trio's live version featuring Scott LaFaro and Paul Motion in a famous Village Vanguard performance from 1961. Of all of the tributes on the album, "My Foolish Heart," with its fragile beauty and melancholy melody, best lends itself to classical treatment. Bill Evans approached jazz with a certain classical bent anyway, although unlike the Jazz Arts Trio, he created his own improvisations.

I have heard the original Evans performance, but don't have it in my collection to compare it beat by beat with this re-creation. While that may have been fun, it would have missed the point. A note-for-note replication of any performance could be one of the hardest things to do in jazz. Being able to sound like a soloing Bill Evans and his groundbreaking rhythm section is probably even harder. But we don't give points in jazz for cloning. Clones may possess identical physiology, but they haven't the same personality or spirit. The music still has to move us. This performance does so. I have listened to it several times. As far as I am concerned, this could just as well have been the original group. I feel every sentiment in this loving and skillful re-creation as I did on the Evans original. Of course, this is not really a jazz performance per se as there is no improvisation. But it may be a precursor to the future of some jazz. For that reason this conceptual presentation is an important addition to the jazz genre.

Pianist Fred Moyer is the main cog in Tribute because he is the pianist. But let's hope there are two more Jazz Arts Trio re-creations Tribute Bass and Tribute Drums. It's only fair that Tillotson and Fraenkel get their chances to be main cogs too.

November 05, 2008 · 0 comments


John McLaughlin: My Foolish Heart

Victor Young wrote the music for the 1949 movie of the same name, which critics hated. Despite the film's negative press, "My Foolish Heart" earned Young one of his 20 lifetime Oscar nominations, this time for Best Song. John McLaughlin lowered the tuning of the low E string so he could use his thumb to provide a lower-register bass to accompany his lush chords and pristine single-note runs. McLaughlin's sound is gorgeous. The melancholy ballad is the last cut on the record and is an outlier on an album full of heavy fusion. McLaughlin likes to jar you that way. I don't think he does it to show off. Rather, he wants you to cool down and relax after experiencing his all-out sonic attack.

January 26, 2008 · 0 comments


Bill Evans: My Foolish Heart

"My Foolish Heart" is another landmark performance from the June 25, 1961 live recording at the Village Vanguard. This trio altered the rhythmic essence of modern jazz with its use of space and time. This was evident in virtually every track recorded at the Village Vanguard on this date, but the ballad performances are especially noteworthy. I am unaware of any previous piano trio attempting a ballad at such a slow tempo -- if the beats were any farther apart you might doubt that there was any strict tempo on this track.

Many otherwise stellar 1950s and 1960s jazz bands would have died trying to attempt this in live performance. But Evans, Motian and LaFaro are liberated by this slo-mo approach. This ballad breathes in a way that few jazz performances have ever achieved. If musicians such as Parker and Gillespie showed how jazz could move faster than anyone thought possible, this trio achieved the same extraordinary results at the other end of the metronome range. But, as with other Evans tracks from this period, the music itself is much more than an experiment or attempt to prove some theory about jazz performance. The sheer beauty of this version of "My Foolish Heart" transcends its origin as a sentimental soundtrack theme from a Hollywood film and transforms the piece into art song of the highest order.

January 14, 2008 · 0 comments


Kurt Elling: My Foolish Heart

I don't believe for one moment that Elling has a "foolish heart" - he sings this ballad with such total authority and presence that it tends to undermine the meaning of the lyrics. Yet that is my only caveat on an otherwise remarkable 12-minute performance. I found myself listening to it again and again, marveling at the many interesting twists and turns in the arrangement, which moves through several phases - torch song, incantation, double-tempo climax - with remarkable aplomb. And every great jazz vocalist deserves a musical director with ears as big as Hobgood's. Elling demands our attention as one of the most impressive vocalists of his generation, and this recording will show you why.

October 30, 2007 · 0 comments


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