Kerry Politzer, piano, compositions; Andrew Rathbun, tenor & soprano sax; Chris Higgins, bass; George Colligan, drums
In a time when many Jazz musicians are hungry for a very narrow spotlight and will rely on gimmicks to propel their careers, these reviewers find solace in the earnest and contemplative music found on pianist, Kerry Politzer's Labyrinth.
Ms Politzer, a Maryland native, grew up listening to classical music. Her mother and grandfather gave her a sense of refined taste, and while she was a student at the New England Conservatory of Music, Professor Manson Devin gave the introspective Kerry Politzer the necessary tools to become a Jazz musician.
Ten years later Politzer has the makings of an authentic artist filled with the promise of becoming a presence in the New York City Jazz scene. Listening to her original compositions, it is apparent that she has something to say. While still a very young woman, her music breathes a subtle maturity and potency.
In her third self-produced CD, Labyrinth, she plays an elegiac piano. Her touch is clean and precise, so it is easy to hear all of her. In her first piece, "Rhode Rage," a samba feel is present. Originally slated to be played on a Fender Rhodes, the piece was adapted for the piano. This gives her the opportunity to create an exciting ebb and flow between the piano's dense chords and the saxophone's sonorous exchanges.
Her writing is expansive and elicits bountiful interpretations from saxophonist Andrew Rathbun. Bassist Chris Higgins is able to dig deep into Politzer's music, and multi-talented pianist, George Colligan, plays the drums with enough edge to propel the music in a constant forward motion. The brushes, aptly played by Colligan, and the bass solo become perfect foils for Politzer.
A lover of the singing voice, she composes with a singer's ear, as is as evident in her fourth selection, "Hya." This tune is written in 5/4 time and is fashioned out of Politzer's passion for Brazilian music and for the beloved vocalist, Milton Nascimento. The selection called "Labyrinth" finds Politzer's piano on fire with traces of Tristano sprinkled in the mix.
Politzer often writes songs in response to news events, and in "Falling through the Cracks" she composed a song about a case of child abuse. One hears questioning and sorrow flood this composition. Even though the bass and drum give a spirited interpretation, these reviewers would have preferred a solo piano rendition. The personal nature of Politzer's playing style would have allowed the story speak of more intimacy.
Unfortunately, Labyrinth contains only one song of her solo work. "And Away We Go" is a splendid little gem at the tail end. What an added treat for us all if we could have heard more of Politzer's solo piano. Perhaps in her new CD we will be given that opportunity.
By Ayana Lowe and George Chieffet