Sunday, January 6, 2013

Matt Herskowitz Upstair Justin-Time 2012

 Canadian based label Justin-Time continues to put consistently high quality product with no down turn what so ever. On Jan. 08, 2013 pianist Matt Herskowitz released a solo piano work has the potential to be a risky move even for an established performer such Herskowitz. The solo work has the artist front and center, warts and all. Matt Herskowitz takes a unique approach to this project by covering or reharming some of his favorites with out sacrificing the original melody or the harmonic changes that come with songs including, "Bach A La Jazz:, "But Not For Me" and of course "I've Got Rhythm." Hershkowitz showcases that art of the solo piano Upstairs which is an intimate showplace that for the uninitiated can consider it Montreal's version of the VanVanguard.
Upstairs finds Herkowitz creating his own personal hybrid with a deep love for classical as well as an artful blend of Michel Petrucciani, Dave Brubeck and George Gershwin not to leave out J.S. Bach and the romantic lyricism of Robert Schuman. Toss is a few originals and one has a solo piano for the ages. Hershkowitz opens on a Yamaha C-6 paying homage to the great Dave Brubeck. Hershkowitz critically acclaimed last recording The Jerusalem Trilogy received high marks from Mr. Brubeck as he stated that "You have transformed the concept of "world music" as I conceived of it half a century ago. You have carried it further than I could imagine back then. The playing is wonderful throughout." This same conceptual idea is carried even further with Upstairs.

Highlights on the release include Petrucciani's uplifting "Cantabile" which carries with it a wide dynamic range. from gospel infused to a warm inner self reflective moment. Schumann's "Traumerei" is the real deal blues thanks to the delightful interpretations of Hershowitz. Two Gershwin numbers close out the set and the sound quality is so pristine you could hear a pin drop. In 2010 Herskowitz recorded the Jewish Triology where a fusion of contemporary jazz, classical styling and a unique blend of Arab and Jewish styling set the table for a solo "walk-off" home run in Upstairs.

Easily 5 Stars.

Tracks: Dziekuje; Waltz In Moscow; Cantabile; Traumerei; Bella's Lament; Bach A La Jazz: But Not For Me I've Got Rhythm.