Saturday, January 7, 2012

Alan Pasqua: Twin Bill

BFM Jazz
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Twin Bill

Alan Pasqua is a pianist, composer, arranger and educator — currently an associate professor at USC — who refuses to settle into a specific genre of jazz. He enjoys, and performs, throughout the total musical spectrum: pop, rock, fusion, straight-ahead, classical and even film scoring. You’ll not be able to name many other musicians who have played with the smorgasbord of Bob Dylan, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, Dave Grusin, Henry Mancini and John Williams.

That said, Bill Evans lit Pasqua’s fire in the very beginning.

Twin Bill is all about Evans in one way or another. Six of these 11 tracks were composed by him; one (“Nardis”) is a Miles Davis tune from the period when Evans worked with him; and another (“Gloria’s Step”) was written by Scott LaFaro, the bassist with one of Evans’ groups. The remaining three tunes are interpretations (done in Evans’ style) of a Swedish folksong (“Vindarna Sucka Uti Skogarna”), a Pasqua original (“Grace”) and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” a tribute to Pasqua’s second favorite thing: He’s a baseball addict.

Aside from referencing Evans himself, this album’s title reflects both a baseball double-header and Pasqua’s decision to use two pianos. He first created the basic melodic line, then over-dubbed a second “support” line and/or the solos. That’s a lot more difficult than it might sound; it’s essential to avoid any “conflict” between the two instrumental lines. Pasqua succeeded beautifully.

Evans would have enjoyed this release. I certainly did.

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