Monday, December 27, 2010

Dave Frank: Portrait of New York

Jazzheads Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Portrait of New York

I first was exposed to Dave Frank several years ago, when reviewing his album, Turning It Loose; like this release, it’s solo piano. Frank is primarily known as a teacher, although he often appears at jazz festivals and travels all over the world to give master classes.

He was an associate professor of piano at Boston’s Berklee College of Music for seven years, then a co-founder of the New York School of Jazz, then opened the Dave Frank School of Jazz in midtown Manhattan.

He’s among the pianists able to play at any tempo, from ballads to what he calls “burners.” Although his “supersonic” forte tends to attract most of your listening attention, and has played a major role in his previous albums, this release includes several tunes done in a ballad mode. I’m more impressed by this slower style than the high-octane stuff. Too much speed hides his beautiful technique.

The dozen tunes here are related to places or events indigenous to New York City. Eight are originals; the others are covers of compositions by Richard Rogers (“This Nearly Was Mine”), Juan Tizol (“Perdido”), George Gershwin (“My Man’s Gone”) and Howard Dietz (“You and the Night and the Music”). Frank covers the waterfront style-wise, from straight-ahead jazz and boogie woogie, to some very danceable renditions and several of the jaw-dropping burners mentioned previously.

No doubt about it: Frank is an amazing musician.

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