anything in life, visual art can inspire song. Joe Gilman captures that
thought with Relativity (Capri Records, 2012), a set of 11
compositions that interpret the art of M.C. Escher.
Gilman, music director of the Brubeck Institute’s Fellowship Program,
says, “Visual arts and music have been sympathetic forces for
generations, as evidenced by Cage and Rauschenburg, Granados and Goya,
Rachmaninoff and Boskin, Corea and Piccaso. The work of M.C. Escher
seemed naturally appealing; his pieces all contain a unique awareness of
the world that reflect his intellect and imagination.”
Accompanying the pianist are Nick Frenay on trumpet and flugelhorn, Chad
Lefkowitz-Brown on tenor saxophone and bass clarinet, Zach Brown on bass
and Corey Fonville on drums.
“Three Spheres,” the first of 11 tracks that reinforce the concept of
the album title, is straightforward, with the horns blending on the
melody, backed ably by the rhythm section. It’s an upbeat groove that
allows the musicians to roam freely. Fonville’s subtle work on the
cymbals is effective throughout.
“Covered Alley” is a short piece that highlights the horns. Tranquil and
easygoing, Frenay leads with Lefkowitz-Brown carrying an overlapping
response. “Encounter” seems a natural follow-up. Muted trumpet and
saxophone set the mood for an important meeting, perhaps an investigator
and an informant on a street or inside a building near the alley we just
left. The bouncy rhythm hints that progress is being made on the case.
Gilman plays the Fender Rhodes electric piano in the background before
switching to acoustic piano for his middle solo, complemented by Brown
and Fonville. Eventually, the investigator is satisfied and happily
strolls away – signified by the transition to an upbeat, sunny rhythm.
Gilman has been primary pianist for vibist Bobby Hutcherson since 2006
and has performed with an array of other musicians, including Eddie
Harris, Woody Shaw, Marlena Shaw, Richie Cole, George Duke, Chris Botti,
Russell Malone, David “Fathead” Newman and many others. Relativity
scores on all pieces, with each song representing a different
interpretation of Escher’s work.