Canadian fans will be quite familiar with Mark Eisenman. Frequent listeners to the nationwide radio program Jazzbeat
hosted by Katie Malloch hear his name quite often during the season. For the past couple of decades, Malloch’s program focused on the talents of Canadian jazz musicians. While Eisenman was born in New York City, he took up residence in Toronto in the early 1970s and is presently a jazz educator at York University and Hamilton’s Mohawk College. My first encounter with Mark Eisenman was through Kirk MacDonald’s fine CD, The Revellers way back in 1990.Sweet & Lovely
features the pianist in a trio format with the popular Toronto bassist, Pat Collins and legendary drummer Jimmy Cobb
. In celebration of the new Cornerstone Records release, the trio appears at Toronto’s Top O’ The Senator
from May 18th through 23rd.
Mark Eisenman is one of those rare pianists who has the ability to be adventurous while retaining a laid-back and logical attitude. The listeners aren’t left wondering in what direction the music will take them. Eisenman, like Errol Garner, has a lot of magic in his left hand and there is no improvisational tension in his delivery. The pianist includes three original pieces on this disk in the form of Bird’s Assurance
, Gilt Be All Thy Stars
and an absolute stunner Sosumi
which showcases bassist Pat Collins. The trio’s interpretation of Ellington’s beautiful Reflections In "D"
is an example of sympathetic musicianship. Alvin Ailey’s famed dance company also recognized the potential of the composition and featured it over the years. Jimmy Cobb
is the sole survivor of the legendary Miles Davis Sextet that recorded Kind Of Blue
way back in 1959. At age 75, Cobb can look back upon a memorable career in which he worked with a legion of jazz icons including John Coltrane, Ron Carter, Cannonball Adderley, Wynton Kelly, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Wes Montgomery and Kenny Barron. Jazz discographies document at least a hundred sessions having Jimmy Cobb as the "heartbeat." Cobb is as sensitive a drummer as ever and seems entirely comfortable within the Eisenman trio. He even gets to play pieces that have been in his book for decades. Wynton Kelly’s Temperance
and Bronizlaw Kaper’s Invitation
are probably among the drummer’s favorite compositions.
Hopefully, you will forgive my wandering astray for a moment. Photographer and musician Don Vickery
deserves praise for the highly original cover photo of Eisenman in the studio. Thousands of record covers passed before my eyes over the past 50 years but this is truly special. Vickery’s use of subtle reflection just had to be acknowledged. Sweet & Lovely
gets top marks. It’s a very tasty disk!