Andy Ezrin, I Was Here Review


Andy Ezrin, I Was Here Review

by Stamish Malcuss

Andy-Ezrin-Jazz-Sensibilities-cdIn the history of Jazz, the piano has long been an instrument of ubiquity and transcendence. Serving as the cornerstone for composition, teaching, and performance, its keys have sparked the flames of genius in the likes of Bill Evans and Keith Jarrett, exhibited the virtuosity of Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson, and carried the profound musings of Bud Powell and Lenny Tristano. By its very nature, the piano embodies the paradox of being a tool for the every day and a vessel for extraordinary musical journeys. This dual identity provides a fertile ground for artists who navigate the expansive possibilities of jazz piano, moving effortlessly between the roles of accompanists, arrangers, and groundbreaking soloists.

Andy Ezrin invites us to join him in this ongoing narrative, embodying the multifaceted persona of the jazz pianist. His album I Was Here features thirteen original compositions that show the depth and breadth of his musicality, formidable technique, and emotionally resonant control. Exploring each track reveals Ezrin’s mastery of the piano and profound understanding of jazz’s rich history and its ever-evolving sounds, colors, and rhythmic textures.

“GRAPES” opens the album with a celebration of contemporary jazz, as staccato piano chords blend seamlessly with the robust textures of the rhythm section. The dialogue between Randy Brecker’s trumpet and Donny McCaslin’s tenor saxophone sets a compelling and intricately woven narrative, showcasing Ezrin’s prowess as a composer and performer.

“THIS IS WHAT IT IS” delves into the nuances of American jazz piano, drawing inspiration from legends like Keith Jarrett and Pat Metheny. The track highlights Ezrin’s versatility, shifting from the acoustic piano to the rich tones of the Fender Rhodes, creating a landscape that is as diverse as it is harmonically rich.

“GREENWOMAN” captivates with its modal jazz influences and contemporary flair, underpinned by a melody that invites the listener into Ezrin’s expansive musical imagination. The interplay between piano and saxophone is a masterclass in dynamic soloing and collective improvisation.

“LUNA,” a trio performance, allows the core rhythm section to shine, offering a glimpse into the chemistry that drives the album’s narrative. The piece combines jazz and folk elements, showcasing Ezrin’s ability to craft sophisticated and universally appealing melodies.

“SIREN SONG” unfolds with a series of enchanting chord voicings, setting the stage for a composition that is light, textural, and imbued with a sense of longing. Ezrin’s piano and McCaslin’s soprano saxophone weave a narrative that is both poignant and uplifting.

“SNOWFALL presents a gentle, shifting composition that evokes the serene beauty of a winter landscape. This track highlights Ezrin’s classical influences, blending them with jazz to create a piece that is elegant and emotive.

“AIN’T THAT SOME SHIT” introduces a bluesy, funky groove that showcases Ezrin’s skillful use of both the piano and Hammond B3 organ. The playful rhythm section and the use of color and mood demonstrate Ezrin’s knack for surprises and musical storytelling.

“IF I DON’T SEE YOU” explores the use of space and European jazz influences, creating a ballad that is rich in harmonic progression and emotional depth. Ezrin’s lyrical soloing keeps the melody at the forefront, weaving through the changes with elegance.

“WIGGLE ROOM” marks a return to straight-ahead swing, energized by a lively bebop melody and virtuosic piano solos that pay homage to the modern jazz and bebop tradition.

“NEVER ENOUGH” is a hauntingly beautiful ballad that showcases Ezrin’s touch and the influence of Bill Evans. Randy Brecker’s muted trumpet adds an extra layer of emotional depth, pulling at the heartstrings.

“I’M RUNNIN’ OUTTA TIME” swings with energy and invention, highlighting Ezrin’s aggressive articulation on the piano and Hammond B3, and demonstrating the ensemble’s rhythmic versatility.

“LOST DAYS” returns to a trio format, offering a composition that is rich in melodic and textural depth. The piece encapsulates a musical journey that is both evident and rewarding.

“CASCADES,” a solo piano performance, concludes the album on a reflective note. Ezrin’s composition is a showcase of melodic motifs, harmonic developments, and dynamic phrasing, serving as a fitting end to an extensive journey through jazz’s many landscapes.

Andy Ezrin’s I Was Here offers the jazz community a diverse palette of compositions, feels, and ensemble settings and performers. The vital theme is Ezrin reaffirms the piano’s central role in jazz—not just as an instrument of technical virtuosity, but as a medium for deep emotional and intellectual expression. Each track on the album, meticulously crafted and passionately performed, is a result of Ezrin’s skill as a pianist and his vision as an artist. I Was Here gives us music with more than an assertion of presence; it is a wonderful contribution to the jazz canon. Ezrin’s distinctive approach to the genre—a seamless fusion of past and present, lyrical depth, and emotional resonance. This project will add to the evolving dialogue of jazz and invites a continual re-examination of what jazz can be, sparking creativity and exploration in those who follow in his harmonic footsteps.


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