Jonny King
Above All
SSC1301
2012-03-27
 Above All by Jonny King cover

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Track List: listen

The Merry-Go-Round - 4:47
Above All - 6:12
The Wedding Song - 7:29
Lullaby for Cecella - 4:27
Spindrift - 4:43
Neither Here Nor There - 5:44
Catharsis - 7:32
Like It Is - 4:29
The Shrinkster - 5:25
The Silver Lining - 5:54
Espionage - 5:19

 

Musicians:
Jonny King - piano
Ed Howard - acoustic bass
Victor Lewis - drums

"For me, jazz is always best when it is most collaborative, when every note you play and every chord you strike is a response or comment to your fellow musicians. When my good friend and long-time music publisher Don Sickler first conceived this trio project, there was no question in my mind who my collaborators should be. I needed Ed and Victor in the trio. The three of us have performed together in various contexts through the years, most memorably at The Jazz Standard and the now defunct Sweet Basil in larger group settings, and there has always been this constant feeling of dialogue between us. With Victor and Ed, the groove is always dependably there, but nothing ever feels rote or predictable, and every chorus -- indeed every phrase -- is a new adventure.

To Don’s and my great satisfaction, Victor and Ed brought that same sense of collaboration and improvisation to this trio project. When we did multiple takes of tunes, each rendition was completely different – different tempos, lengths, feels, and directions, all driven by where that particular moment took us. Recording studios, headphones and booths don’t usually promote that kind of freedom, but you can’t help feeling liberated with Victor and Ed along, prompting you with new rhythms, harmonies and ideas. Sometimes, the demarcation between solos wasn’t scripted, as on “The Wedding Song” or “Espionage,” where Ed and I kept playing straight from my solos into Victor’s, because that’s what felt best at the time. Even compositionally, Victor and Ed had so much input on how we structured the tunes, where we shifted grooves or dynamics, or what we might play as a vamp behind a drum solo. Don too was invaluable, using his incredible experience as both performer and producer to offer suggestions about dynamics, orchestrations and how sections of certain songs could be brought to life. I may be the listed composer of these songs, but, in the spirit of collaboration and improvisation, these guys are unofficial co-authors and orchestrators.

Without setting out to make a “tribute” album, I realized later that many of these songs are, in fact, tributes of one sort or another. Some are acknowledgements of musical heroes or inspirations. The rubato intro to “The Wedding Song” was inspired by John Coltrane’s powerful “Love” from First Meditations, and “The Silver Lining,” while nothing like a Horace Silver tune, is a tip of my hat to that great master. Some tributes are more personal. I wrote “Lullaby For Cecelia” for my daughter Cece when she was a little baby, grasping irrationally with her tiny hands at needs and things she wasn’t able yet to express. Lila – your turn is next! “Neither Here Nor There” is a song for my dear, departed friend Tony Reedus. One of the swingingest, most distinctive drummers out there, as his track record attested, Tony was also one of the funniest, most honest people I’ve ever been privileged to know.

And finally, “Above All” is a tribute to my wonderful father, Edward J. King, who died in October of 2009, leaving an enormous knot of pain, love and longing in our family. I wrote the piece shortly after he passed on, and while nothing I can ever write or say will pay him sufficient tribute, I offer it as a reflection on his wisdom and kindness. He was, above all, a true gentleman. When we first let the tapes roll on this tune, the result was a little scattered and unfocused, maybe because its subject is so emotional for me. Ed pulled me aside, reminded me to reflect on why I wrote the song when we played it, and the next take fell right into the place where I wanted it to be. I hope my dad likes it, and I hope you do too. Thanks for listening.

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