As a long-time Jazzfan it is always great to realize that there is a new young and fresh generation of musicians, who dedicate their great talent to that musical genre.
One of them is pianist Carey Frank from Los Angeles, who recently released his debut CD. Frank mentioned that he named the CD 'KEEP SMILING', because his grandfather was always saying that. And you can feel that positive message on every single track.
Frank, who holds a Master of Music in Jazz Studies from the University of Southern California, presents his music in a classical trio with himself on the piano,
Sezin Ahmet Turkmenoglu on bass and Jamey Tate on drums, only in two tracks a saxophone (played by Bob Mintzer) is added.
On the CD there are ten songs, a mixture of a few well-known tunes and compositions by Frank himself.
SONG FOR T was composed by Frank and is dedicated to his teacher and friend T. Lavitz (the former keyboardist of Jefferson Starship and Dixie Dregs). The song starts pretty quiet with a frequently repeated figure in the left hand of the piano, followed by a catchy melody in the right hand. In the middle of the song Frank develops the musical material to a real swinging part until it goes back to the more quiet part of the beginning.
As the title already indicates, W.J. EVANS is Frank's homage to pianist and arranger Bill Evans. Written in three quarter time, the song reminds of Evans "Waltz for Debbie". This song also shows Frank as a superb soloist on the piano. Also Turkmenoglu can be heard as a soloist on this track.
The fast HOT CHICK is another dedication, this time to pianist Chick Corea; Frank mentions him as one of his major inspirations. If you listen carefully, you can detect the motif of Corea's famous piece "Spain" in this song.
After this fast song, Frank and his band take a little rest with the beautiful I WROTE YOU A BALLAD, a dedication to his piano teacher Per Danielsson.
The fast and rhythmically tricky TAKE THE COLTRANE, a composition by Duke Ellington and of course a play on words with his famous composition "Take The A-Train", features Bob Mintzer (well-known as an essential part of the "Yellowjackets") on saxophone. At the same time this song can be seen as Frank's obeisance to John Coltrane and Duke Ellington. In this song Frank shows -once again- his great ability on the piano.
In fact Carey Frank is not only a musician but also a story-teller. So this is what Frank tells us about the song OLD BOURBON: "The story was about a man traveling throughout Japan, who found an unusual bar that only serves Whiskey at least 100 years old or older. Unlike other alcoholic beverages that age and taste different with time, Whiskey never changes its taste, so when someone drinks this 200-year old bourbon, its almost as if theyre momentarily going back in time with each sip."
The beautiful THE HEART OF LIFE, written by John Mayor features again Bob Mintzer on Saxophone. Carey Frank writes: "The song is about the love and pain from a significant other, family member or a friend."
WHAT'S HER NAME, another ballad, is about a girl, Frank wanted to meet but hadn't the courage to speak to. So now, after a long time, he remembers that situation and asks himself, what could have been, if he would have had a date with her.
The quiet RECOVERY was written for a very close friend of Frank, who was finally on the road to recovery from a terrible addiction.
The CD ends with the touching SMILE, a composition by Charlie Chaplin written for his movie Modern Times. Frank and his band present that lovely song in a very tasty and jazzy version, far beyond all that corny stuff that a lot of musicians make out of it.
So all in all: Carey Frank's CD is the grandiose debut of a very talented musician. All arrangements of the songs are full esprit and show a keen sense for musicality. So hopefully we will have the opportunity to listen to much more of this fine musician in the future.
© Markus Michel 2015
Carey Frank - Keep Smiling Original Release Date: April 6, 2015 Label: Carey Frank Musicians: Carey Frank: Piano Jamey Tate: Drums Sezin Ahmet Turkmenoglu: Bass Special Guest Bob Mintzer: Tenor Sax (Tracks 5,7) Tracklist: 1. Song for T 2. W.J. Evans 3. Hot Chick 4. I Wrote You a Ballad 5. Take the Coltrane 6. Old Bourbon 7. The Heart of Life 8. What's Her Name 9. Recovery 10. Smile