Coming off his Grammy-nominated 2013 album, The World According to Andy Bey, vocalist/pianist Andy Bey delivers the equally compelling 2014 release Pages from an Imaginary Life. As with its predecessor, Pages finds the jazz iconoclast returning to his roots with a set of American Popular Song standards done in a ruminative, stripped-down style. This is Bey, alone at the piano, delving deeply into the harmony, melody, and lyrics of each song. But don't let the spare setting fool you. Bey is a master of interpretation. In his seventies at the time of recording, and having performed over the years in a variety of settings from leading his own swinging vocal trio, to working with hard bop pioneer Horace Silver, to exploring the avant-garde with Archie Shepp, Bey has aged into a jazz oracle who doesn't so much perform songs as conjure them from somewhere in the mystical ether of his psyche.
Reissue with the latest remastering. Comes with liner notes. Lee Konitz has had many opportunities to record with European artists over the decades, but this session is a bit unusual, in that all the compositions are by bassist Giovanni Tommaso and Konitz doesn't stick strictly to alto saxophone. Joining them are pianist Franco D'Andrea (with whom Konitz worked on a number of Philology CDs decades later), trumpeter Enrico Rava and drummer Gegé Munari.
The leader of this unique instrumental trio is the Swiss composer and pianist Thierry Lang, age 56. He has been playing piano since 5 and at 7 he decided to dedicate his life to music. When studying classic (up to 21) at 15 Thierry heard Bill Evans whose work became for Thierry a model of synthesis of jazz and classical music. He finally fell in love with jazz after he heard music of Erroll Garner and Oscar Peterson.
The genius of Bird and strings is hard to describe – an edgey aproach that really goes far past most other "jazz with strings" projects, not a ballad-driven one, but a tensely strained one that brings out some of Parker's best soloing, almost in a moody soundtrack-type way. The tracks are a lot freer and less bop-driven than some of Bird's normal work, and it's incredible to hear him soloing with such complexity — even more proof of the genius he clearly exhibited in relation to his contemporaries.