Appetite for classic modern mainstream piano strikes a chord

ALL HAIL THE UNDERDOG WAGGING A LONG TAIL Glancing at the latest most-played jazz tracks globally on Spotify released within the last 18 months it's not at all what you'd expect. For instance who knew that UK journeyman pianist Rob Barron who most …

Published: 20 Nov 2021. Updated: 13 days.

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ALL HAIL THE UNDERDOG WAGGING A LONG TAIL

Glancing at the latest most-played jazz tracks globally on Spotify released within the last 18 months it's not at all what you'd expect. For instance who knew that UK journeyman pianist Rob Barron who most jazz fans will not even be that familiar with, and certainly not the most extrovert of performers in an idiom of jazz where being discreetly elegant is a positive virtue not that in a fickle world distracted by a tsunami of tat it receives much attention, is a streaming legend with more than 3.6m streams since release just over a year ago. The London-based pianist in all the jazz genre is currently 18th most streamed globally for his rendition of 'A Time For Love' the Johnny Mandel and Paul Francis Webster Oscar nominated song featured on 1966 film The American Dream and covered that year by Tony Bennett with Mandel conducting.

Barron was first on this blog's radar back in 2016 when he had a solid but unremarkable record at the time out called What's In Store full of lots of familiar tunes. Influenced by the heart of the modern-mainstream bop and beyond tradition identified with the likes of Cedar Walton, Wynton Kelly and Hank Jones you could close your eyes and locate What’s in Store easily back in the heyday of the Blue Note era. More recently back in the autumn on 2020 From This Moment On from which 'A Time For Love' is the very last track appears on an album that includes compositions by Barron along with Great American Songbook standards including the title track Cole Porter evergreen. Barron studied at the Leeds College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music, and on the album is with Jeremy Brown on bass and Josh Morrison on drums both players well known for their work with the singer Stacey Kent.

FILLIP FOR CHARLAP: LIFE'S A GAS

While still on Spotify again indicative of an appetite for classic piano trio sounds in the modern mainstream idiom the new Great American Songbook-soaked Bill Charlap trio album Street of Dreams has clocked up more than 385,000 streams in not much more than a week for 'I'll Know' which as noted in our review the inclusion of which certainly made sense as the Frank Loesser standard from Guys and Dolls isn't one you hear so obviously these days.

GAINING ON GARNER - ADELE

Looking ahead, will this be a trend? The signs are it might as even Adele leans into a titan of jazz piano, Erroll Garner, atmospheric crackles and all, and 'No More Shadows' on 'All Night Parking (with Erroll Garner) Interlude' which appears on her mega selling latest album 30. Given the singer's influencer power the chances are interest in classic jazz mainstream piano from the 60s will get even more of a boost as the Adele audience discover the idiom perhaps for the first time.

Rob Barron, top. Photo via Ubuntu

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Johan Lindvall Trio, This Is Not About You, Jazzland ***

If you are a progressively minded piano trio, particularly from anywhere in Europe then there is an elephant in the room: dealing with e.s.t., the groundbreaking Swedish trio cruelly cut short in their prime with the death of their remarkable …

Published: 19 Nov 2021. Updated: 14 days.

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If you are a progressively minded piano trio, particularly from anywhere in Europe then there is an elephant in the room: dealing with e.s.t., the groundbreaking Swedish trio cruelly cut short in their prime with the death of their remarkable pianist Esbjörn Svensson in 2008 at just 44 in a scuba diving accident. To their credit I can detect no wholescale copying of Svensson in fellow Swede Johan Lindvall's style (Adrian Myhr on double bass and Andreas Skår Winther on drums complete the line-up). Instead Lindvall flits about into the avant-garde almost on 'Listen' and on 'Gettin' Out' into territory another Swedish best selling jazz pianist Martin Tingvall inhabits.

At some point in the future a robot will be programmed to play like the Lindvall trio and engineers could certainly do worse than train their technology on their pristine sound given its sleek lines and polite manner as an exemplifier of elegant middle-of-the-road piano trio sounds circa 2021. There's a lot to like on 'Give Up' a riff-based track that has a loose feel eventually. And yet the main talking point is the trio's overly perky version of Karen O's woozy 'Rapt'. I'm not blown away by any of this by any means. But This Is Not About You is very hard to dislike. The irony, given how the first track is titled 'Imagine Something Different' and the imagining isn't so very different overall, is inescapable.