Friday 29 March 2013

Appealing and intriguing - A Single Noon

Gregg Kallor
Gregg Kallor is a young American composer pianist whose work encompasses improvisation and straddles the divide between jazz and classical. His nine movement suite, A Single Noon was premiered in April 2011 at Carnegie Hall in New York, in a concert where Kallor also played music by Bartok, Chick Corea, Annie Clark (St Vincent), Henry Mancini, Rachmaninov, Stravinsky and Louise Talma, indicating Kallor's range and diverse interests. On this disc he has now recorded A Single Noon for the first time.

A Single Noon is a nine-movement suite which is a paen to life in New York City in all its diversity. The title comes from Emily Dickinson, 'It bloomed and droppt, a Single Noon', i.e. seize the day. Kallor starts with the suite's title movement, which introduces the theme which will wend its way through all the other movements.

The first movement sounds like the prelude to something, an elegant melody which tempts us into thinking this is just the intro, but then gradually descends down the piano only to disappear. Broken Sentences hints at Leonard Bernstein riffs with a lively, up tempo rhythmic jazz piano. Kallor keeps things rather intriguing and the movement is a mixture of composed and improvised. Night gives us lovely expressive melody over restless accompaniment. A song without words which succeeds in being haunting. Straphanger's Lurch refers to straphanging on the Subway and the movement is by turns lively and quiet. An edgy jazz riff dissolves in surprising gaps and lurches with quieter meditative moments. Found is the quiet oasis at the centre of the suite; a quiet, rather lonely movement in which time stands still.

Espresso Nirvana reflects Kallor's dependence on coffee; a fast toccata with interruptions, intense and nervous with a nice rhythmic kick. Giants is quietly contemplative with a bluesy jazz feel, but with unsettled undertones and gradually a rhythmic flow builds. This movement is improvised and what is interesting about Kallor is that you don't feel him relying on a handful of standard riffs to fill out his ideas. By was of contrast, Things to Come offers nervous intensity with fast jerky rhythms, fragments and hints of the main tune. The concluding movement Here and Now offers a quiet and thoughtful phantasmagoria before the main theme returns, recognisable but change.

This is an appealing and rather effective disc, Kallor's lively playing not only bridges the gap between classical and jazz, but mixes composed and improvised sections to create an intriguing whole.

Gregg KALLOR - A Single Noon [42.52]
Gregg Kallor (piano)
Recorded in August 2011 at Ambient Recording Company in Stanford CT.

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