Label/Year: InnerVoice Jazz, 2017
Lineup – Marc Copland (piano).
Nightfall, the second outing of the year by the virtuous pianist Marc Copland, is a poetic and heartfelt solo recital that pays tribute to friendship and fruitful musical collaborations with longtime associates such as bassist Gary Peacock and guitarists Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie.
Along with renditions of some of their compositions, the pianist performs three of his own originals and also adds an astonishing take on “Jade Visions” by Scott LaFaro, a pure, melancholic waltz devised with smooth touches and emotional richness. It is exactly with this reassuring tune that Copland opens the album, running some descendent melodic phrases reminiscent of Bill Evans, a natural rather than slavish influence, and elegiac harmonies of subtle introspection.
A sublime musing mood is fully embraced on the nocturnal “Nightfall”, an original piece whose unstoppable one-note pedal delivered at a middle register works as a steady axis for the oblique upper melodies that float in the company of irregular yet intense low-pitched voicings. The sounds are very much capable of describing the post-impressionistic painting of Van Gogh exhibited on the CD cover (Starry Night over the Rhone).
Displaying congruous harmonic movements that are easier to interiorize, the polished “String Thing” gets closer to the song format, remaining poetic as its inner bliss pops out like lava from a spewing volcano.
Impressions of a luminous sentiment are absorbed on Ralph Towner’s “Song For a Friend”, an affecting ballad in minor retrieved from the 1975 duo album Match Book with the vibraphonist Gary Burton. Conciliating melodies and harmonies with a lyric precision, Copland is equally incisive with his left hand, working diligently on the low-toned edge of the piano.
While his “LST” gains a different dimension with no accompaniment, the pensive if searching “Vignette”, composed by Gary Peacock, is reimagined with a cerebral posture.
Copland concludes this session with a pair of tunes by the late John Abercrombie, taken from his 2013 ECM release 39 Steps: “Another Ralph’s” (originally written for Towner) doesn’t take any surprising detours when compared to the type of ambiance envisioned for the record, while “Greenstreet”, which could have been shaped into a regular hard swinger or a ballad, is mounted as a moderately fast, often-rubato post-bop excursion instead.
Copland’s first solo release since 2009 dives inward places of strange intimacy, becoming a consistently beautiful work. Throughout his musical solitude, the piano speaks volumes, resulting in a generous, dainty gift.
01 - Jade Visions ► 02 - Nightfall ► 04 - Song For a Friend