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Tag: ECM Records

Lynne Arriale’s Jazz Of The Spirit Comes To BOP STOP

Lynne Arriale
photocredit: Andrea Canter

The term “spiritual jazz” seems to be everywhere these days. It’s a label that has more value for marketers than for music fans, an empty coinage that’s more meme than meaningful. It might be easier to say what “spiritual jazz” is not, for instance the music made by pianist and composer Lynne Arriale, who comes to BOP STOP Saturday night.  

Arriale doesn’t employ non-Western instruments. Her favorite setting, the piano trio, couldn’t be more traditional. There are no open-ended 20-minute-long excursions on her recordings. Arriale’s songs are concise. They have memorable, singable melodies. It’s easy to envision some of them with lyrics.

Yet the titles on her latest recording, Being Human (Challenge Records, 2024), among them “Love,” Joy,” “Gratitude” and “Persistence,” read like the contents of an undiscovered session by John Coltrane. What’s going on here?

“Music to me is spiritual, and if I am writing and playing from a particular space in consciousness, then I hope this translates into people feeling spirit and heart,” Arriale said by phone from her home in Jacksonville, Florida. “I’m working on a personal level on being heartful in everything I do, including music.”

Arriale might be working on a personal level, but her motivation is broadly and generously directed to make the most expansive benefit possible. Consider her last three recordings. Chimes of Freedom (Challenge Records, 2020) was a response to the worldwide crisis of refugees and migrants seeking safety and a better life. The Lights Are Always On (Challenge Records, 2022, reviewed here) was Arriale’s response to the cataclysm of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If those two releases addressed world-changing events, Being Human can be seen as an answer to the question, “How do we deal with sorrow and inhumanity?” The answer, Arrlale suggests, is to become human, each of us, one at a time and in our own way.

Arriale doesn’t conceive of her music as an instrument of healing. “I don’t think about that,” she said. “I would just like to lighten people’s stress. I would like them to feel absorbed in the music. I would like the music to take them on a little bit of a journey, if possible, and to engage them.”

The journey Arriale takes on Being Human is an expansive one, from the strolling blues of “Soul” to the modal drive of “Persistence” to the light-footed calypso of “Joy.” The pianist wears her references–Bobo Stenson, a bit of Paul Bley and early Keith Jarrett–lightly.  Fans of the Scandinavian wing of the ECM Records stable will find a lot to like here—no surprise considering that Arriale counts herself among them.

The music she makes is approachable without being banal, melodic but not cloying, sophisticated but never abstruse.  “Music is for the heart,” she said, adding “Jazz is a complicated art form, but ultimately people don’t need to know what we’re doing. They just need to know how they feel. And if our music reaches people and they feel a range of emotions, we’ve succeeded.”

For the last two stops on her tour of the Midwest, Arriale will be joined by bassist Jeremy Allen from Bloomington, Indiana and Detroit-based drummer Sean Dobbins. “I played with Jeremy a few times and Sean for the first time maybe a year ago, and I felt a real magical connection with both of them,” the pianist said. “It felt like they were just so tuned in, great listeners and beautiful players.”

Beauty is at the center of Lynne Arriale’s musical practice. “I try to do the best I can to come from a space of wanting to reach people and wanting to connect with them to music,” she said. “That’s my goal. And if it happens, it’s beautiful.”

Lynne Arriale Trio, Sat., May 15, 8 p.m., BOP STOP, 2920 Detroit Ave., Cleveland,. Tickets $25 , available here.

NOTE: This article was written by a real human being. No artificial intelligence or generative language models were used in its creation.

Red beans and ricely yours,


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Nik Bärtsch’s RONIN Builds Mesmerizing Ritual On A Groove

Nik Bärtsch's RONIN by Boris Mueller
from left; Sha, Keller, Bärtsch, Rast (photocredit: Boris Mueller)

In the Japanese martial art of aikido, awase, is a state of harmonious movement with one’s partner. Little wonder that Swiss pianist, Nik Bärtsch, a skilled aikido practitioner, chose Awase as the title of the 2018 ECM Records release by his RONIN quartet, which will return to BOP STOP Sunday night.

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Mat Maneri’s Quartet Seeks “. . . joy through sorrow, elation through fatigue”

Mat Maneri 4
photocredit: Mircea Albutiu

The improvising violist Mat Maneri recalled a conversation with his ECM Records producer, Steve Lake about the nature of music. “

“He thought it was all religious and I said, ‘No, it can’t be that.’ But there is something sacred about that stage and your relationship with the audience that once you’re onstage,” Maneri told me by phone last week.

There’s something sacred about the music that Maneri and his quartet will offer at BOP STOP Wednesday in a concert presented by Cleveland’s essential New Ghosts organization. Drawn from the violist’s latest recording Ash (Sunnyside Records, 2023), the music is a memory project that casts an oneiric spell that is simultaneously elusive and completely absorbing.

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Bring Back The Time: Jamey Haddad Plays The Music Of Keith Jarrett

Keith Jarrett Jamey Haddad
photocredits: Rose Ann Colavito ECM Records/Jackson Clark

Sometime in the mid-70s, percussionist Jamey Haddad was in a studio in Beachwood for a session that concluded a bit early, so he asked engineer Dale Peters (yup, the James Gang’s bassist) to keep the tape rolling while he played drums along with a record that he was particularly taken with. That record was The Köln Concert, the 1975 ECM double album that became bestselling piano album and solo recording in jazz history, and arguably vaulted its creator, Keith Jarrett, to jazz stardom.

Two generations later, Haddad has lost none of his love for Jarrett’s music and this weekend he will play it with a quartet of guitarist Jonah Ferguson, bassist Kip Reed and saxophonist Bobby Selvaggio at four venues in Northeast Ohio and Pittsburgh.

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Born In A Log Cabin: AlbaTrio Celebrates the Release Of Their Debut CD

from left: Tommy Lehman, Anthony Taddeo, Tim Lekan

If you pick up a copy of AlbaTrio‘s eponymously titled new recording at Sunday’s release party at Bop Stop—and you should—you’ll hear an impressive showcase for trumpeter Tommy Lehman, bassist Tim Lekan and percussionist Anthony Taddeo. But listen closely and you might sense the presence of an uncredited fourth voice: the spacious yet intimate ambience of Strong Cabin in Lake Metroparks near Madison, Ohio.

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