Primary Instrument: Piano
Oscar Peterson. Bill Evans. Vince Guaraldi. Erroll Garner. Horace Silver. Herbie Hancock. Chick Corea. Hear the Jazz Arts Trio bring to the concert stage the best trio performances of these historic piano giants all in one evening!
What can safely be called the only jazz group of its kind, the Jazz Arts Trio, through note for note transcriptions of historic moments in piano jazz, is keeping alive music that otherwise would live on only in recordings. The Jazz Arts Trio does not simply imitate. Rather, the three musicians infuse the music with their own vitality and interpretations, much the way a chamber music ensemble approaches Bach or Beethoven. This “classical” approach to jazz breaks down genre boundaries, delighting long-time jazz enthusiasts as well as those new to this great music. And classical music lovers will thrill to the Jazz Arts Trio's high level of artistry and technical prowess as applied to this most classic of American art forms....
The roots of this project go back over 30 years, when pianist Frederick Moyer painstakingly transcribed Oscar Peterson’s “Bossa Beguine” note-for-note using his parent’s reel-to-reel recorder and experienced the joy of playing them with friends and fellow musicians Peter Tillotson and Peter Fraenkel in high school. Following music studies at Indiana University, Moyer became a Classical pianist, and for twenty-five years he performed thousands of recitals and appeared as a piano soloist with numerous orchestras all over the world. In 2007, during a nine-month sabbatical, Moyer rediscovered his interest in Jazz. He began transcribing more Jazz performances by Oscar and other great pianists, and then contacted his old friends and trio- mates Fraenkel and Tillotson, who had each become musicians with extensive experience and qualifications in Jazz, symphonic, and other musical forms and endeavors. The three reunited as the Jazz Arts Trio, and in Tillotson’s words “happily spent many hours transcribing, rehearsing, polishing and perfecting what we believe is the best of the best of piano Jazz.” The results are on this CD, redone versions by the Jazz Arts Trio of eleven landmark Jazz trio performances from albums originally recorded between 1961 and 1972, plus one DVD done in 1985.
All selections are polished and vibrantly delivered. Six of the eleven salute recordings of the Oscar Peterson Trio from six different albums released from 1962 to 1985. The great trio of Peterson, Ray Brown on bass, and Ed Thigpen on drums constitute three of these original performances, and the remaining original Peterson trios include either Sam Jones or Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen on bass and either Louis Hayes, Bobby Durham, or Martin Drew on drums. It certainly is quite a monumental undertaking to reproduce these performances of Oscar and his trio, both to capture the technical wizardry and artistic sensitivity of Oscar’s playing and to also render well the significantly worked out arrangements by the trio, and Moyer and his trio do both impressively. The other pianists saluted on this repertory album are Bill Evans (whose trio included Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian), Herbie Hancock (trio includes Ron Carter and Mickey Roker), Horace Silver (trio includes Teddy Smith and Roy Brooks), Vince Guaraldi (trio includes Fred Marshall and Colin Bailey), and Erroll Garner (trio includes Bob Cranshaw and Grady Tate).
While a defining element of Jazz is improvisation, Moyer comments that he and his trio approach this music “as if it were classical music,” focusing on nuances of interpretation. As a repertory group, the Jazz Arts Trio honors these legendary Jazz artists and brings their historically significant music to today’s listeners. From the CD notes, drummer Fraenkel adds his perspectives on the group’s goalsand motivations in this endeavor. He states that “this project is about inhabiting classic performances that have inhabited each of us for decades, and that form our core musical vocabularies.” For him the task required the demanding process of “documenting and recreating the subtle rhythmic inventions of these masters,” leading him to declare that in the end “I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to learn from them, and am honored to pay them tribute.”
MIDWESTRECORD.COM http://www.midwestrecord.com/2008/10/31/103108-boo/ JAZZ ARTS TRIO/Tribute: So, if you’re a real jazz piano junkie, this crew has undertaken to dissect original tracks and play them exactly as the original tracks were played. Common in classical disciplines, it’s something new for jazzbos and it kicks all those ‘in the tradition’ peeps in the teeth. Well played stuff that might not be everyone’s cup of tea, this is a sure thing for jazzbo geeks looking for piano jazz art. Chris Spector EJAZZ NEWS - CD Review/Tribute/Jazz Arts TrioJ124 http://www.cabaretexchange.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=584&Itemid=153 To be succinct, this is a jazz trio to be reckoned with as they interpret their vision of jazz through some of the giants the group has been influenced by, etc...........And, bring it to fruition they do!! The influence of jazz pianist, Frederick Moyer is compelling as he guides his sidemen through the hills and vales of a few songs from the American Songbook. His delivery of the Bill Evans inspired ''My Foolish Heart'' was flawless. His use of a unique melodic line for the tune, as well as his choice of utterly beautiful and challenging jazz harmonies will leave you breathless. The ensemble renders an invaluable service as they put together for us the literal ''bones'' of creation for our sensibilities to ponder. And, isn't that what art and jazz is supposed to do..............Leave one with a childlike sense of wonder about how music and the art of improvisation is formed? This trio succeeds where other jazz trios fall light in that they renew our hopes about the staying power of our beloved jazz idiom. -George W Carroll
I didn’t want to like this release when I first read about it’s concept. Essentially, classical pianist Fredrick, along with bassist Peter Tillotson and drummer Peter Fraenkel, came up with the idea of completely transcribing, note for note, music performed by Oscar Peterson, Herbie Hancock, Horace Silver, Bill Evans and Erroll Garner, and recreating the music with their own hands, a la the way it is done in the European classical school of Mozart, Beethoven and Bach. Like you, my visceral reaction was akin to someone coming up with written denials by the 12 Apostles of Jesus’ resurrection. Is this blasphemy, or what, to take away the soul of jazz, namely the performer’s individual performance?
Well, what a surprise to find out that this disc actually succeeds! Yes, the notes are the notes of the aforementioned artists, but the guys in the JAT still have their own fingerprints and personal touch, so the tunes have a breath and stamp of their own. Moyer’s light and clean sound is perfectly suited for the Oscar Peterson’s breezy swing on the clever and tricky “Something’s Coming” and the shifting rhythms of “Bossa Beguine.” Evans’ “My Foolish Heart” has a Debussyish spaciousness, and Hancock’s “First Trip” has an airy joy to it. It’s fascinating to figure out how much of the actual sound belongs to the present performer, and how much is from the person of tribute. Quite unique in concept, with a bravo performance. By George W. Harris
Jazz.com http://www.jazz.com/music/2008/11/10/jazz-arts-trio-freeway Rating: 88/100 (learn more)
This track is an interesting re-construction. That is, the Jazz Arts Trio decided to pay tribute not by performing their own renditions of the tunes, but by transcribing them and recording the note-for-note transcriptions. So right down to the piano riffs, bass inflections and brush strokes, Vince Guaraldi's Freeway comes back to life. For those familiar only with Guaraldi's classic music for Charlie Brown/ Peanuts, it might be a little surprising when the Thelonious Monk influences come shining through. Surely the blues was not unknown to Guaraldi, but an edge too? I have to admit that the idea of re-creating music in this manner was a little off-putting, but the result has far more energy than I expected. Reviewer: Mark Saleski
The difference between jazz improvisation and composed variations on a theme is that the former is dynamic, while the latter is static. In jazz, improvisation amounts to spontaneous composition, where a melodic variation over a harmonic skeleton occurs instantly. Improvisations on a theme in this sense are not written down prior to being played. However, these same improvisations can be transcribed after a performance (from a recording). This is what pianist Steven Mayer did on his Art Tatum - Improvisations (Naxos, 2004). Now, classical pianist Frederick Moyer, with Peter Tillotson on bass and Peter Fraenkel on drums�collectively known as the Jazz Arts Trio�extend this paradigm to the jazz trio on Tribute.
Tribute is a collection of 11 famous trio performances transcribed from their recordings by the trio members. The collection is appropriately heavy on Oscar Peterson, whose recordings provide six of the selections. The remaining five pieces were parceled among Erroll Garner, Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi, Horace Silver and Herbie Hancock. On one hand, there's the temptation to think that performing a completely transcribed jazz performance would be a futile exercise. On the other hand, it is not so different from what classical performers do day in and day out.
While novel at this level, the Jazz Arts Trio's transcriptions and recital are compelling. The trio's performance of the transcription of Bill Evans' 1961 Village Vanguard version of My Foolish Heart illustrates the chops and artistry of its members. Moyer proves a careful study of piano styles. His play on Evans has the same light, ethereal touch of the originator, like a wisp of mist. Tillotson's Scott LaFaro impersonation is impressive, if understated, and Fraenkel's Paul Motian is dead on.
To be sure, Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson were very different pianists; Peterson being virile and physical, while Evans is quiet and introspective. This makes Moyer's accomplishment, well, that much more accomplished. Versions of Peterson's Tin Tin Deo from Easy Walker (Prestige, 1969) and Bossa Beguine, from Blues Etude (Limelight, 1965), illustrate both Peterson's rhythmic genius and Moyer's considerable chops.
Moyer approaches these different pianists as he would approach pieces by different composers. The sum of the experience is an increased appreciation for the original performances, and the Jazz Arts Trio's ability to readily summon them up. By C. Michael Bailey
When artists cover old classics, there is generally something different about them: a new arrangement, something added or something removed, in an attempt to make it their own. Pianist Frederick Moyer and his Jazz Arts Trio take a different approach on Tribute. They perform eleven classics, note for note, just as they were recorded previously.
Moyer is a classical pianist who has performed as a soloist with major metropolitan orchestras in Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston, Singapore, along with the London Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra of Brazil, among many others. He has also written several software programs to aid in practicing, analyzing, recording and performing music. Accompanying him on Tribute are bassist Peter Tillotson and drummer Peter Fraenkel.
The trio does more than justice to Something's Coming. This version faithfully follows the storyline of the vintage Oscar Peterson recording, while adding Moyer's own touch. The selection changes pace, evoking the image of an animal scurrying through the grass in starts and stops. Moyer's lead is impressive, while the bass and drums create a lively backdrop.
Watch What Happens begins as a very slow piano solo. Then, Fraenkel's rim shots set the pace for an easygoing, yet charming piece. Moyer's speed and accuracy during one of the more engaging sequences are top notch, and Fraenkel also shifts, getting more work on the snare and cymbals.
Cymbals and toms help establish Vince Guaraldi's Freeway. Fraenkel's pings exemplify an element that makes this type of music so special. The bass is subtle, but effective.
Jazz listeners typically want something unique when they hear a remake of a classic. However, once in a while, it is refreshing, to say nothing of entertaining, to hear them just as they were done before. That is the essence of Tribute. By Woodrow Wilkins
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
In a unique hybrid form, which may be a harbinger of further explorations to come, classically trained pianist Frederick Moyer and his equally talented colleagues drummer Peter Fraenkel and bassist Peter Tillotson take a decidedly classical approach to creating jazz piano trio music by transcribing note for note outstanding performances of some of their jazz heroes.
On this re-creation of a classic Oscar Peterson, Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen performance from the 1964 LP Easy Walker, these master musicians treat this magical moment as a vehicle for emulation without sacrificing their own interpretive vitality. Critics may see this as lacking in the spontaneity of original thought or of a type of savant replication without artistic merit. To my mind, these performances stand on their own, no less legitimate than brilliant performances of Beethoven or Mozart by contemporary classical masters. Can one transcendent moment be re-created by careful transcription and be forever preserved outside of that single recording? Should we even try? Isn't the beauty of improvisational music that its stream of consciousness may never be repeated in precisely the same way? The Jazz Arts Trio seems bent on proving that these concepts need not be sacrosanct. If Bartok or Schoenberg can be preserved forever note for note, why not Peterson or Evans or Silver?
Moyer seems particularly in awe of Oscar Peterson. His fluid mastery of some of Peterson's stunning techniques on Tin Tin Deo is inspiring to behold. Having never heard Peterson's original version, I can only imagine its magnificence. Fraenkel does a laudatory job of re-creating what must have been one of Thigpen's most inspired performances on cowbell and traps. This is a praiseworthy offering by master musicians who through care and reverence have delivered a thoroughly entertaining piece of music. They pay homage to past performances while injecting their own essence and enthusiasm, making this classic fresh and vital. It is also a unique attempt to memorialize magical performances of great artists by preserving their brilliance through scrupulous transcription of their finest performances � a noble endeavor. Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
I have been suggesting for years that jazz, even fusion, will eventually be treated as classical music. I am pleased to discover that the Jazz Arts Trio, accomplished in both the classical and jazz fields, has already begun that process. After playing together as high-school students, these superb musicians took different routes, yet three decades later found themselves together again. For this project, they painstakingly transcribed some of the greatest jazz piano trio performances ever captured, then re-created every note and accent live for their CD Tribute.
The band's reenactment of one of the greatest jazz ballads, My Foolish Heart, replicates the Bill Evans Trio's live version featuring Scott LaFaro and Paul Motion in a famous Village Vanguard performance from 1961. Of all of the tributes on the album, My Foolish Heart, with its fragile beauty and melancholy melody, best lends itself to classical treatment. Bill Evans approached jazz with a certain classical bent anyway, although unlike the Jazz Arts Trio, he created his own improvisations.
I have heard the original Evans performance, but don't have it in my collection to compare it beat by beat with this re-creation. While that may have been fun, it would have missed the point. A note-for-note replication of any performance could be one of the hardest things to do in jazz. Being able to sound like a soloing Bill Evans and his groundbreaking rhythm section is probably even harder. But we don't give points in jazz for cloning. Clones may possess identical physiology, but they haven't the same personality or spirit. The music still has to move us. This performance does so. I have listened to it several times. As far as I am concerned, this could just as well have been the original group. I feel every sentiment in this loving and skillful re-creation as I did on the Evans original. Of course, this is not really a jazz performance per se as there is no improvisation. But it may be a precursor to the future of some jazz. For that reason this conceptual presentation is an important addition to the jazz genre.
Pianist Fred Moyer is the main cog in Tribute because he is the pianist. But let's hope there are two more Jazz Arts Trio re-creations � Tribute Bass and Tribute Drums. It's only fair that Tillotson and Fraenkel get their chances to be main cogs too. Reviewer: Walter Kolosky
Rightfully so, more tributes to Oscar Peterson continue to appear. On its debut CD, the Jazz Arts Trio combines six tunes by this late piano legend with one song each from kings of the keyboard Erroll Garner, Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi, Herbie Hancock and Horace Silver.
Tribute, released on JRI Recordings, is an attempt to re-create specific moments in jazz history.
Pianist Frederick Moyer, bassist Peter Tillotson and drummer Peter Fraenkel are three high school friends reuniting after 30 years. They got back together in 2007 when Moyer was thinking about transcribing and learning the music of his favorite recordings.
After purchasing the Amazing Slow Downer software (slows down music without changing the pitch), Moyer began to capture moments of improvised jazz expression. Now, with Tribute, he is demonstrating the art to a classical music crowd.
Much like the way classical musicians interpret Beethoven or Bach, this truly special project takes the music of jazz legends and explains it to these incredibly capable performers, mainly schooled in the classical realm.
In liner notes by Scott Yanow, Fraenkel describes his chore of transcribing brush strokes, cymbal splashes and drum rolls. Figuring out what those guys actually played and then performing it is sort of like breaking the genetic code, says the drummer who spent hours in preparation listening to the likes of Louis Hayes, Bobby Durham and Grady Tate.
Vince Guaraldi's tune Freeway throws a curve into the mellow, middle part of Tribute. With Peterson's material taking up the first four and final two tracks of the CD, the Guaraldi song is a fun, almost Monk-like, surprise stuck in the center. Unmistakably eye-opening on a record full of striking piano, it is shocking that his work is not more well-known. Before writing the music behind the Peanuts cartoon series, he spent time as an apprentice with Cal Tjader and Woody Herman. His first album, Modern Music from San Francisco (Original Jazz Classics), was recorded in 1955.
Lonely Woman, a Silver original, is a chance to relax and appreciate a remarkably basic selection. It serves as an impeccable intermission and a gentle jaunt before the tribute to Oscar carries on.
Blues Etude completes the project with the Jazz Arts Trio going for and executing a hard-bop vibe in a big way. It punctuates Peterson's appeal and underscores a slick set.
Moyer plays with classical orchestras all over the world and he deserves credit for assembling this project with his extremely talented mates in order to preserve pieces of a jazz legacy. Moyer's skill and forward thinking, along with his stunning band, makes Tribute a relevant salute to Peterson and other jazz piano greats. By Brian Gall
Frederick Moyer is a classically-trained pianist who ventures in to the jazz world with this excellent recording recreating the music of such legends as Erroll Garner, Bill Evans, Horace Silver and Herbie Hancock in a way similar to how a classical artists would interpret Bach, Beethoven or Mozart. With friends Peter Fraenkel on th drums and Peter Tillotson playing bass, Jazz Arts Trio, one of many typical piano trios around, sounds anything but typical. The music is enthralling and captivating drawing you in with one compelling performance after another.
The album pays special tribute to the late Oscar Peterson playing two of his originals, the bossa-shaded “Bossa Beguine”and the very lively and energetic “Blues Etude” where Moyer takes off running his fingers all over the keys. There are four other tunes recreating past Peterson performances starting off with the Leonard Bernstein opener “Somethings Coming,” “Tin Tin Deo,” Michel Legrand's “Watch What Happens” and Billy Rose's “You Look Good To Me.'
Errol Garner originally performed Burt Bacharach's classic “Close To You” but Moyer and crew provide a complete new overhaul of this tune playing it with gusto. Getting down right mellow and soft, the group turns to the Washington/Young standard “My Foolish Heart”a beautiful slow ballad that has drummer Fraenkel on the brushes, Tillotson weighing in on soft bass-lines as Moyer handles the keys with tenderness.
Other highlights here not to be missed are Ron Carter's “First Trip,” and Horace Silver's “Lonely Women.” Tribute is one very special album that not only pays tribute to jazz giants of the past but in some ways, paves the road for others to be considered legends in the future. Pianist Fredrick Moyer, bassist Tillotson and drummer Fraenkel deliver a magnificent performance staking their own claim for such regard in the future. This album is clearly one of the best piano trio recordings to grace the airways. By Edward Blanco
Recreating music note-for-note is fraught with pitfalls. It could be as palatable as drinking a soda after all the fizz has escaped or it could stand deep in the shadow of the original. But as the saying goes, imitation is the best form of flattery and the Jazz Arts Trio makes that apparent as they reinterpret 11 performances with flair and skill.
Frederick Moyer (piano), Peter Tillotson (bass) and Peter Fraenkel (drums) were friends who went their separate ways after high school. They met again in 2007. It was at this time that Moyer got the idea of transcribing the songs on this CD, which includes six by pianist Oscar Peterson who passed away while this project was underway.
The choice of tunes is nifty. It gives Moyer the chance to show his skills in the various settings, playing a profusion of notes with clarity like Peterson, or drawing back and reflecting like Bill Evans. That he can capture a mood and make it palpable is testimony to his technique and creativity.
Any of the tunes that Peterson played are worthy of attention. Blues Etude has Moyer shuffling the rhythm and the pulse and emphasizing the chords. His two-handed approach adds to the impetus and it's delightful how the chords complement his runs.
Lonely Woman retains the emotional pith. With Tillotson and Fraenkel as gentle complements to the development, Moyer lets the ballad open its doors and invites the listener to an entrancing performance.
This is an impressive and sincere tribute. By Jerry D'Souza
Jazz and Blues Report
JAZZ ARTS TRIO Tribute JRI RECORDINGS Pianist Frederick Moyer, bassist Peter Tillotson and drummer Peter Fraenkel make their recording debut with an 11-tune set that melds classical music and jazz. Reinterpreting gems by Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Bill Evans, Vince Guaraldi, Herbie Hancock, Horace Silver and their trios, this stellar team puts their own mark on an intimate set. This new undertaking by Moyer and cohorts is a departure from his world-wide concert performances and 23 recordings (on three labels). His pristine, intelligent keyboard approach gives fresh life to familiar tunes such as “Something’s Coming,” “Tin Tin Deo,” “Watch What Happens,” “My Foolish Heart,” and others. The three musicians began playing together in the 1970s while in high school but went their separate ways and only reunited in 2007. Still, their familiarity comes across as Tillotson and Fraenkel provide sensitive, tasty accompaniment to Moyer’s expansive piano improvisations. This solid trio generates plenty of excitement to keep the listener engaged.
By: Nancy Ann Lee
Classical musicians Frederick Moyer and two of his long-time friends, Peter Tillotson and Peter Fraenkel, a.k.a the Jazz Arts Trio, take a refreshing idea and run with it. Transcribing music pieces and recreating them in performance is traditionally how musicians study the works of the great classical composers such as Beethoven or Bach. In this case, the Jazz Arts Trio has done it with some of the greats of jazz such as Oscar Peterson, Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock, and Vince Guaraldi, to name a few. Each of the music giants featured on this project brings something unique to their respective performances and Moyer’s vision has happily succeeded in capturing each individual personality and essence and by adding his own and his bandmates' own additional seasoning, give the music new life.
The work of piano legend Oscar Peterson is highlighted in this production as six out of the eleven tracks are either composed by Peterson or were made classic by Peterson. Moyer does a splendid job of reflecting Peterson’s exuberance and the way the three musicians play together, here, it seems they have collectively captured the spirit that Peterson’s bands were also known for. Each musician is strong in his own right, but together, cohesive and able to take the music to the next level. The Trio’s performances of “Bossa Beguine” and “Blues Etude” are delightfully captivating from beginning to end.
Other highlights on this disc are Vince Guaraldi’s “Freeway” and Herbie Hancock’s “First Trip,” both of which will satisfy any discriminating listener’s senses. Various subtle nuances are captured that lend themselves well to the authenticity of the sound and structure of each recreated piece.
This disc is highly recommended, especially for fans of Oscar Peterson and lovers of lively up-tempo piano jazz in general.
By Veronica Timpanelli
Swing of Many Colors (JRI Recordings, 2012)
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