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Leaving Home by David Berkman

David Berkman is a NYC-based post-bop pianist in the Bill Evans/McCoy Tyner (Tyner in the 60s, that’s to say) mold, who has played with singer Barbara Sfraga and Jane Monheit, sax whiz Joel Frahm and bassist Cecil McBee. Looking at the people Berkman’s made music with, you got to know he’s intensely but not-too-obviously lyrical and elastic (loose-form though not free-form), and that’s the best way to sum up his latest platter Leaving Home. Written for an unusual line-up of 3 saxophones, piano, bass and drums, this is a set of moody, very subtle tunes - NOT the stuff to put on the sound system when you want/need some hard-swinging music, but more like music for pensive, contemplative - but NOT "mellow" - states of mind. Though this is quiet, reserved music - chamber jazz, if you will - it’s not easygoing, soft light and wine jazz. Berkman makes you earn the goodies you’ll find - at first many of these songs seem distant or cold, but beneath that seemingly chilly surface is cerebral but quietly passionate "thinking music" jazz, a la Paul Bley and Marilyn Crispell, highlighted with some birdsong-like free-ish soprano sax from Sam Newsome and languid, bittersweet, full-bodied tenor from Chris Cheek. There’s rhythm, but it doesn’t make the music move (i.e., swing) but it moves along with the music. And to conclude the set, Berkman delivers a striped-down-to-its-barest-essence solo take on "Embraceable You." It’s worth the extra time, I’m tellin’ ya.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: David Berkman
  • CD Title: Leaving Home
  • Genre: Contemporary Jazz / Modern
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Palmetto
  • Musicians: D. Berkman: piano; Brian Blade: drums; Ugonna Okegwo: bass; Sam Newsome, Dick Oatts, Chris Cheek: saxes.
  • Rating: Four Stars
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