"It’s Reigning Kats & Dogs & Bogen"
is the latest offering from Israeli-born pianist Eyran Katsenelenbogen
. The album features ten solo piano performances and is the sixth solo piano effort that Eyran has released. Eyran’s classical training began in his native Israel, under the tutelage of Aida Barenboim, mother of noted Chicago Symphony conductor Daniel Barenboim.
Eyran is a graduate of The New England Conservatory in Boston, where he studied with Paul Bley and Fred Hersch. The latter’s influence is readily apparent in Eyran’s musical presentation on this CD, which would be best described as a formal jazz recital. Eyran’s sound is deeply rooted in the piano tradition of the first half of the twentieth century. This approach has produced a richly textured sound much in the concert style of George Gershwin and Dana Suesse. His playing is sparing in its use of common bop and swing elements, but reflects a good deal of listening to early jazz piano masters like Art Tatum and Fats Waller. Traces of modern stylists like Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett also pop up from time to time.
Eyran’s choice of material bides well with his dense harmonies and delicate multi-note runs. All of the selections are standards or traditional melodies. Though the tunes cover a lot of well-know ground, Eyran’s interpretations are unique and highly personalized, spanning the range from the somber, reflective "Ask Me Now" (one of Thelonius Monk’s lesser known but outstanding ballad compositions) to an infectious stride romp through Ellington’s classic "Perdido". Another nod to Ellington is "Caravan", done here in a medium tempo funky style. Eyran’s performance makes one wonder what a modern-era pianist like Gershwin would have done with later swing and bop compositions, as he effortlessly switches between funky verses and a stride bridge.
In addition to his busy playing schedule, Eyran is also a full-time faculty member at The New England Conservatory, where he has worked to develop a series of teaching tools to enable young players to easily learn the jazz piano language and master aural identification of jazz harmony. He recently completed a CD with an 8-year old autistic student, Matthew Savage. His work with Matthew has been featured in The Boston Globe
and on ABC News "20/20". We are truly fortunate that Eyran has chosen to display his talents as both a performer and teacher, and hopefully to bestow them upon listeners and students alike for many years to come.