Launching a new label is at the very least a turning point in an artist’s career. For pianist Marc Copland, it’s also a high point, as in Zenith (2016), the first release from InnerVoice Jazz.
Performing with Copland are Ralph Alessi, trumpet; Drew Gress, double bass; Joey Baron, drums; and Bill Zavatsky, poem.
“Sunset at the Zenith” is a haunting, ethereal piece. A brooding, ominous bass line augments the opening melody, a duet by piano and trumpet. After an initial swell, the mood softens. Copland, Alessi and Gress, in turn, offer musical interpretations of monitoring the sun from different perspectives. It would be an ideal soundtrack to a space exploration film.
“Waterfalls” is a livelier, more energetic piece. Gress and Baron get busy in the background, while Copland and Alessi start things off. After the opening, stop-start sequence, Copland goes on a thrill ride. One can visualize a kayak, squirting through rapids as its operator braves an approaching drop. Then when Alessi takes point, the drone-mounted camera gives us an aerial view of the surface action. During this pass, Baron cranks up the heat, apparently emphasis those moments the kayak gets knocked around. It’s a riveting, adventurous composition.
Zenith is comprised of four Copland compositions, a cover of Duke Ellington’s “Mystery Song,” and the epic suite, “Air We’ve Never Breathed,” improvised by all four members of the quartet. Since 2000, Copland has released 30 albums as a leader. In recent years, he has been a charter member of John Abercrombie’s quartet and Gary Peacock’s trio. Copland says starting his own label feels like a natural evolution. “I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to work with a lot of very creative and talented producers. I learned a lot from them, and InnerVoice Jazz gives me the opportunity to put some of that knowledge to good use.”