Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Ernie Krivda: Requiem for a Jazz Lady

Capri Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Requiem for a Jazz Lady

Only folks with a great memory — or those who hail from Cleveland, Ohio — are likely to be familiar with tenor saxist Ernie Krivda. Born in 1945 in that city, his first job with a name orchestra was when, at age 18, he joined the Jimmy Dorsey band. As the years passed, Krivda’s primary experience came with “territory groups” in and around Cleveland. In the 1970s he became the leader of the house band at the Smiling Dog Saloon, where he shared the stage with Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and others.

Flash-forward to the present day: Krivda has recorded close to a score of albums, is artistic director of the Cuyahoga Community College Jazz Studies Program, and is a touring clinician for the Yamaha Instrument Company.

His style takes us back to earlier jazz years; he has a “big” tone on his horn, and plays with a noticeable vibrato that evokes artists such as Coleman Hawkins. Krivda doesn’t have the “smooth” sound of (for example) Stan Getz, but nonetheless is a real swinger in every sense. 

This album contains seven charts, only one of which — “I’ll Close My Eyes” — is a standard; the rest are Krivda originals that run the genre gamut: some blues, a waltz, a funky swinger, and a couple of gorgeous ballads. He’s joined by pianist Lafayette Carthon, bassist Marion Hayden, and drummer Renell Gonsalves. You’d love to watch this quartet jam at the end of the day.

We don’t usually think of Cleveland as a jazz town, but it’s the center of a Midwest circuit that includes Pittsburgh, Columbus, Detroit and Chicago; all have a rich history of jazz groups and musicians.

This release helps us appreciate how relatively easy it has become to produce an album readily available to “the masses.” In olden times, scores (hundreds?) of individuals and groups created quite palatable jazz that went unnoticed outside of the areas where they lived and performed.

Kudos to Capri, for allowing us to notice and support Krivda and so many others.

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