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Nighttown by Don Grolnik

Don Grolnik's Nighttown is a CD that I instantly liked being centered, as it is, on the early 60's Herbie Hancock sound. If you love Hancock's Dolphin Danceon Maiden Voyage you'll go ga-ga for Nighttown! I've gone ga-ga for Nighttown and Grolnick! His compositions and arrangements are achingly beautiful in that early 60's Modal form while adding a big dose of compositional complexity - something that might seem at odds with that style. But Grolnick's charts not only make it all stick together but , to my mind, pioneer something quite revelatory. Call it Expressionist Impressionism. By that I mean a largely introspective and reflective set of tunes with Latin rhythm grooves, free-blowing sections and snappier tempos flowing through it seamlessly. Grolnick unites it all by keeping the tonalities locked into the proper mood at all times - giving the entire CD a concept feel. And how rare it is to hear orchestrated backgrounds running behind solos these days! Grolnick inserts constantly evolving ensemble coming judiciously throughout all solo sections. The ensemble consists of Grolnick on piano, Randy Brecker - trumpet Joe Lovano - tenor Steve Turre - trombone Dave Holland - bass Bill Stewart - drums with Marty Ehrlich adding a surprising Bass Clarinet to the group. I have to admit to having initial reservations about the soloing of all (yes, all) of the players. Everybody solos in that open-ended, non-developmental style that, apparently, is just the way EVERYBODY plays now. I am, at this late date, still tied to call-and-response, theme-and-development in solos. However this CD is so magnificent that it has helped me come to terms with the current trend. It doesn't hurt either that Recording Engineer James Farber has produced the fattest sounding CD ever heard! It's quite incongruous to realize that the late Grolnick (dead of non-Hodgkins Lymphoma last year) spent most of his career as pianist and arranger for James Taylor (!). His death no doubt denied him greater fame in the Jazz world but how fortunate for us that he was able to make these recordings before going. Nighttown is nothing short of a masterpiece.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Don Grolnik
  • CD Title: Nighttown
  • Genre: Other
  • Year Released: 1997
  • Record Label: Unknown
  • Rating: Four Stars
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