Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Luis Celenza Back & Forth Self Released 2013

Luke Celenza and similar Independent artists are the reason I write. Although something tells me Celenza will not be unfairly tagged with the label of Independent much longer. Piano trios and 4tets are for me much like the overly crowed pack of female vocalists. Sonic chewing gum. Once the flavor is gone or in some cases never developed then the music is less than memorable and it is time to start looking elsewhere.

Back &  Forth is the Luke Celenza that walks a finely crafted tightrope between jazz and pop sensibilities. An interesting side note here is the Grammy and two-time Latin Grammy winner Michel Camilo happened to be a friend of the family and while encouraging the development of the young phenom it is in facts Celenza's natural gift that music become life's calling card for him. The tunes on Back & Forth have a deceptively simple sound rather than lingering in the more pretentious academia similar players seem determined to hang out in. Celenza keeps it all about the groove and the melody. It is not that Celenza struggles with odd meter, we share the same philosophy in keeping things on a level the passive listener can enjoy and thus hopefully push the music forward. Some of the more complex tunes by some artists are much like chewing gum, once the flavor is gone and the melody is lost then the tune is for the most part over. Oddly enough Celenza does not seem to have that problem.

"River Rhodes" is a slightly abstract tune with deceptively hidden pop sensibilities and accentuated with a unique harmonic direction for the Celenza's keen sense of melody. Unlike some of the more familiar pianists, Celenza succeeds in airing his own musical voice and lyrical sense of purpose. A conceptually based recording in that the origin of jazz was that of the popular music of the day. With today's pop music carrying a strong sense of melody but virtually no improvisational magic of any kind, Celenza is looking to reverse the trend and the solo here from saxophonist Lucas Pino does just that. "Blues" is a minor key blues where groove is king and sprinkled with funk-a-licious swing that borders on addictive and we find one of the most promising young pianists of the day. Not to be outdown the rhythm section of Joshua Crumbly on bass and Jimmy Macbride on drums is first rate. Mudslide" is an exquisite ballad that rocks back and forth with a dynamic ebb and flow to keep things interesting. Jazz with a sense of purpose played from the soul, not the self-serving riff on someone else's work only to expect critical acclaim for jumping through the same musical hoop that has been successfully conquered before and normally better.

Natural, organic and with mad potential we have Luke Celenza with 4 out of 5 stars. As this 21 year old talent grows so will his gift. Still, this is a must for any piano lover or those looking for a harmonic change of pace.

Tracks: Three Point Five; River Rhodes; Back And Forth Prelude; For Charles; Jupiter Interlude; Blues; Jupiter And Mars; 131; Back And Forth; Mudslide; Mars; Back And Forth Reprise.

Personnel: Luke Celenza: piano; Joshua Crumbly: bass; Jimmy Macbride: drums; Lucas Pino: saxophones.

Special Thanks To My Friends At DL Media