Thursday, October 11, 2012

Joe Alterman: Give Me the Simple Life

Miles High Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Give Me the Simple Life

Joe Alterman, born in 1988, is a pianist whose style is a throwback to the 1950s. He was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, but moved to New York City in ’07, to study music. He graduated from New York University just this year, and now is working on a master’s degree. 

Considering his youth, and the limited time he’s had to impress his fellow musicians, Alterman already has made a considerable impact. He has gained attention from icons such as Marian McPartland, Bill Charlap and Houston Person, and has performed at famous jazz venues in the United States and Europe. Person was impressed sufficiently to participate in this album.

You’ll notice immediately that Alterman is both a talented pianist and a “happy” one; the joy in his playing is quite evident. It’s also clear that he loves the music that has been a mainstay of jazz for decades: the standards that were key to many of us for the second half of the 20th century. 

Most of the tunes included in this set fall into that category; they include “Georgia on my Mind,” “Give Me the Simple Life” and “Pure Imagination.” Although some of these tunes originally were done as ballads, they’re presented here at swinging tempos that will get your feet and fingers moving ... and make you want to dance. Two charts — “The First Night Home” and “Biscuits” — demonstrate Alterman’s talents as a composer.

His quartet features the aforementioned Person on tenor sax, James Cammack on bass, and Herlin Riley on drums. Person, at almost 80, remains a master of his instrument; he still possess that smooth-as-silk tone for which he’s so deservedly famous. 

This is a neat, swinging group, and Alterman shows a lot of promise.

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