Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Accidental Tourists The L.A. Sessions Challenge 2012

New sounds...There is nothing that excites me more than stumbling on to an artist that has taken the time to develop their own voice. Piano trios are a dime a dozen and one of the most exciting voices to come along since perhaps Keith Jarrett would be Markus Burger.

Accidental Tourist The L.A. Sessions features seven Burger originals and some well chosen standards that play well into an incredibly well thought out release. The trio is rounded out with Bob Magnusson on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums. This is a trio that is seemingly built around elegance and sophistication while harmonically cutting edge by bringing back a keen sense of lyrical direction without some of the more self indulgent fodder other artists seem intent on force  feeding the public. LaBarbera is perhaps best known for his work with Bill Evans and Tony Bennett while Magnusson is a lyrical beast having cut his musical teeth with the likes of Art Pepper and Peter Erskine.

"Grolnicks" is a Burger original and tribute to the late Don Grolnick and opens the release with Magnusson leading the charge straight out of the gate. The rhythmic pulse of Magnusson works in tandem with LaBarbera providing a dynamic tension of counterpoint riding just below Burger's inventive style. The George Gershwin classic "I Loves Porgy" pays homage to perhaps Burger's strongest influence , jazz icon Bill Evans. Burger reinvents the tune utilizing his own melodic voice instead of doing the typical riff on Evans as so many other pianists have tried and ultimately failed or wound up with a disappointing cover at best. LaBarbera's brush work is immaculate and adds to a more spatial sense of time and swing more closely associated with a European style while maintaining his domestic ability to swing like a beast as needed. "Full Circle" is another Burger composition of note that walks a sonic tightrope between the inventive and the introspective with an improvisational spin that is fresh and alive with color.

Markus Burger is hoping to turn this project into an on going series. Burger is a German pianist currently teaching at Los Angeles City College and Fullerton College. The prolific talent of Burger can be found in a variety of genres which of course include jazz, chamber and film. While Burger is no stranger to critical acclaim this particular trio has now raised the bar for others to follow!

Tracks: Grolnicks; Air Canada; Black Sea Pearl; Full Circle; I Loves You Porgy; Rodeo Drive Hustler; In Love In Vain; Inspektor Bauton; The Old Country; Blue In Green; One World; Morning Smile.

Personnel: Markus Burger: piano; Joe LaBarbera: drums; Bob Magnusson: bass.