Evolution of jazz
BLUE NOTES: The John Kordalewski Trio takes the audience on a journey through the history of jazz Sunday in Peterborough
The John Kordalewski Trio, featuring Kordalewski of Boston on piano, leading New Hampshire musicians John Hunter on bass and Tim Gilmore on drums, will be talking listeners on a mini-tour of jazz history, featuring some of the jazz-piano greats during a concert at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture on Sunday.
Starting with jazz’s bebop era, Kordalewski will be featuring works of such greats as Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk and Elmo Hope, and moving through the evolution of the musical styling until he reaches modernists such as McCoy Tyner, Kenny Barron and Mulgrew Miller. Miller, along with Cedar Walton, another jazz great, will have special features, as both have passed this year. Along with performing a single piece from each of the artists, Kordalewski will also be engaging the audience with a short dialogue about each of the composers unique characteristics and their place in jazz history.
“As a piano player, I’m always drawn to the great pianists, who have also been wonderful composers,” Kordalewski said in a phone interview Tuesday. “The tunes that they write have a certain depth to them, that makes them something that I want to play. That’s what I thought I could shed a little light on for people.”
His selections come in a range, he said. He’ll be talking about Bud Powell, who is considered one of the defining artists when if comes to the bebop approach to piano playing, but he’ll also be featuring Herby Nichols, who only made a few recordings in his career.
While Powell has always been considered a reference point for jazz bebop, Nichols was ahead of his time, and has only started to become better known in more recent years as musicians and jazz connoisseurs have come to discover his work.
When it comes to jazz pianists, Duke Ellington is a name that jumps to the forefront of people’s minds, said Kordalewski, but one that he avoided when crafting his lineup of featured artists.
“I really wanted to go into people that people might not be as familiar with,” he said. “Starting with the bebop era, which is really the start of what people would call the modern era, up to more contemporary people. I’ve got ten different people, and one piece from each. I could do a whole program on any of them.”
In fact, said Kordalewski, picking a single piece was one of the difficult parts of setting up the program.
“In most cases, it’s not their most well-known piece,” he said. Some times it was just a piece he thought he would be capable of playing, he said with a laugh, or a piece that he had always wanted to be able to play but had never had the chance to work on.
And while jazz is a musical genre that thrives on improvisation, Kordalewski said the trio will be focusing mostly on keeping true to existing recordings of the works.
“If I do a program where I’m doing standards, then I do like to put unique arrangements on it,” he said. “But I think in these cases, the composition, and the way they arranged it is part of the composition.”
He continued, “One artist I’m featuring, Horace Silver, has certain rhythmic aspects, and that’s part of his compositional mind. For the musicians that are great composers, their compositions are a special little world. For everyone that I’ve included in the program, that special world is great.”
Accompanying Kordalewski on Saturday will be Hunter on bass and Gilmore on drums.
Hunter has performed in concerts and television appearances across the country, and has accompanied artists including Dizzy Gillespie, Joe Williams and Paquito d’Rivera, and frequently plays with Granite State Symphony, the Portland Symphony Pops and the Hanover Chamber Orchestra.
Gilmore has recorded or performed with artist including Pete Seeger, Tower of Power, and Catie Curtis. His music has been featured on the PBS documentaries “Dying to Please,” “The Dolphin Dilemma,” and “Birds of Prey,” and the HBO mini-series “Women in Prison” and the feature film “Vermont Is for Lovers.”
The three have often played together, said Kordalewski, although not regularly.
“They’re really some of the most outstanding musicians in New Hampshire, and I really enjoy playing with them,” Kordalewski said.
Kordalewski himself has led and arranged music of Makanda Ken McIntyre, a Boston-born jazz musician, and has worked with contemporary jazz artists such as McIntyre, Oliver Lake, Craig Harris, Odean Pope and Charlie Rouse. He was a one-time member of the saxophonist Salim Washington’s nine-piece Roxbury Blues Aesthetic.
The concert will be held in Bass Hall at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture on Grove Street in Peterborough on Sunday at 3 p.m.
For more information or to purchase tickets in advance, contact the Monadnock Center for History and Culture at monadnockcenter.org or by calling 924-3235.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ex. 244, or firstname.lastname@example.org. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaari.