Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Randy Ingram!

On his new album, “Sky/Lift,” the pianist Randy Ingram pursues a spirit of fluent modernity… A young pianist drawn to contemporary harmony and a sleek rhythmic sensibility… astute, self-possessed.”   Nate Chinen,  The New York Times
Randy Ingram - pianist / composer
Mike Moreno - guitarist
Matt Clohesy - bassist
Jochen Rueckert - drummer
Sunnyside Records 2014 (64’26”)
One of the best-reviewed jazz albums of the year, pianist-composter Randy Ingram’s “Sky/Lift” is a top contender for awards including the 2014 Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album and the Jazz Journalist Award for Up-and-Coming Artist of the Year and Record of the Year.

Five years in the making, and Ingram’s first release for the Sunnyside label, “Sky/Lift” is comprised of seven original compositions and one cover. Ingram enlists the notable guitarist Mike Moreno to be a melodic/harmonic foil to his piano playing on all but two of the recording’s tracks. Ingram and his quartet have recently performed to sold-out houses at venues ranging from Smalls and the Jazz Gallery in New York City, to the Jazz à Domergue Festival in Cannes, France. They’ve recorded live for WBGO’s The Checkout, and been interviewed by Lynn Darroch on Portland, OR’s WKMHD.  Bassist Matt Clohesy and drummer Jochen Rueckert complete the Randy Ingram quartet; together, they are four of contemporary jazz’s most gifted musicians.
The recording begins with the title track “Sky/Lift,” an ascendant composition with an inviting sense of openness, which highlights the simpatico between Moreno and Ingram, especially their melodic phrasing. Ingram’s nostalgic ‘Silent Cinema’ is a mood ballad for the trio and inspired by the programmatic ethos of friend/composer Darcy James Argue. Energetic and powerful, ‘99’ is a rallying cry for the Occupy Wall Street movement. ‘St. Louis’ is a warm, freely played composition written as an elegy to Mid-western culture shock. ‘The Sea’ is an ode to its namesake’s overwhelming majesty and spirituality. The waltz-like ‘Late Romantic’ takes the musical period as inspiration as Ingram conjures a sweeping, rhapsodic melody over the seemingly free ¾ rhythm. Dedicated to the great British session pianist Nicky Hopkins, who was featured on John Lennon’s ‘Jealous Guy’ and the Rolling Stones’ ‘Loving Cup,’ ‘Nicky’ is an appropriately twangy mixture of blues-rock groove and modern jazz harmonic sensibilities.

The only cover on Ingram’s “Sky/Lift” is Bill Evans’s ‘Time Remembered’; Ingram brings the tune to new life with his original arrangement. Coincidentally, Ingram also made his acting debut this year, depicting Bill Evans for the Swedish film jazz biopic “Waltz for Monica,” aka “Monica Z.” The award winning movie was the top grossing film of 2013 in Sweden, and has gone on to be distributed in over 40 countries.
Says Glenn Kenny: “Ingram writes real compositions: not songs, not heads or themes that provide pretext for “blowing,” but long melody lines, sometimes articulated by the leader and guitarist Moreno in tandem. Ingram is a canny but not a tricksy pianist…The nice thing is that the surprises don’t jar— Sky/Lift is a very well-integrated listening experience—but do make you prick up your ears, which are then rewarded.”
The Alaska-born, California-raised pianist attended the University of Southern California and the New England Conservatory on scholarships. Since moving to New York, Ingram has maintained a high profile, performing with most talented musicians, including Nikki Yanofsky, Billy Higgins, Noah Preminger, Kristina Train, Jon Irabagon and Ari Hoenig. He was awarded a 2007 ASCAP Jazz Composers Award and in 2009 released his debut recording, the critically acclaimed “The Road Ahead” (Brooklyn Jazz Underground Records).

“It is our responsibility as jazz musicians to keep innovating and keep creating in a way that honors what we love about this music and conveys a strong sense of meaning,” says Ingram. He accomplished this with aplomb on his new recording, a wonderful meeting of the contemporary and the classic.