Ethan Iverson, Every Note Is True Review
by Icrom Bigrad
Ethan Iverson is a pianist and composer joining the roster of Blue Note Records and releasing his debut album for the label called Every Note Is True. For his debut Blue Note release, Iverson has created a trio with bassist Larry Grenadier and legendary drummer Jack DeJohnette. “I’ve been extraordinarily busy with a lot of projects that try to assess the tradition,” Iverson says. “Playing with Tootie and Billy was almost a reaction against playing with The Bad Plus every night. But I was starting to feel my oats to play that kind of piano again, so I consciously composed a set of attractive tunes that have a bit of a pop influence. It could never be The Bad Plus without Reid and Dave, but some of that bright big piano is back.”
Iverson cites Money Jungle, the raucous and freewheeling 1962 album by a trio of Duke Ellington, piano; Charles Mingus, bass; and Max Roach, drums, as an influence on the project. “It’s great to hear Larry and Jack swinging out,” Iverson exclaims. “With the two of them, you don’t need a lot of material. If you bring in something really simple, no more than basic sketches, they’ll take it over and make it sound great. That’s very much in the tradition of those great Blue Note records from the 50s and 60s, where the tunes are memorable, but there aren’t too many notes on a page.” One can hear this on “The Eternal Verities” in that the three work together to create a song influenced by an uplifting pop-classical feel, but is still grounded in the interaction of concentrated listening from the past, the central part of the jazz tradition regardless of the style.
“Merely Improbable” takes the opposite tack of a hard-swinging feel with a contemporary juxtaposed by a straight funk feel. The trio builds on the familiar foundation of rhythm changes to create their improvised statements. The traditional thump of Grenadier’s bass dances with DeJohnette’s cross-rhythms as Iverson’s solo conveys the melodic harmony. This song is the stand-out track on the album, as all three take influences from the past and transform them into today’s modern jazz.
Every Note Is True successfully conveys that the album title has true meaning to each player. “If I play it, I believe in it,” Iverson concludes. The assuredness comes through in the playing and makes the album a true joy to explore and get to know.