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All About Jazz review – Solo

The opening notes of Solo are symbolic in the ways that count most. "La Noche" begins with discordant notes in descent, a sense of dramatically falling down a flight of stairs. Arriale, however, never loses her balance, never hits ground. Instead, she exudes a grace and control that epitomizes her sound throughout. Can one even fall if they breathe elegance with each step and note? Is it falling or simply flight? Arriale gives no insight into these questions, but provides the thrilling sensation of both.  Dave Sumner, The Bird is the Worm, continue reading 


JazzWrap review – Solo

After so many  records in the quartet and trio format you would be shocked to hear that this is her first full solo album. Arriale pulls out a lot of intimacy and longing throughout Solo. It's filled with a number pieces she's performed and recorded over the entirety of her career, including one of my favourites "Arise" (originally on the 2005 album of the same name). There's some humorous improvisation on Solo, as evident on the opener, "La Noche." Arriale's technique hearkens back to her classical training but the important aspect here is her ability to make you think of it differently. To the point that its not classical or jazz. It's just beautiful notes creating a story of your own choosing.  continue reading


The Sunday Times, London

Somehow, even after a decade-long run of outstanding trio albums, the flamed-haired American improviser still tends to be overshadowed by the more fashionable New York names. British audiences are warming to her nevertheless, and she will be returning to the UK this year for the London Jazz Festival. Her Paris show, which kick-started another European tour, was an opportunity to eavesdrop on her new album, Arise, released towards the end of this month. Having signed to an innovative new label, Motéma, Arriale continues to blend thoughtfully sculpted original tunes with an ingenious sprinkling of cover versions. As ever, her delicate touch and unabashed love of melodic lines turns them into her own private property. In the past I have made the mistake of underestimating her ever-assertive drummer Steve Davis. At the Duc des Lombards, a smallish nightspot near Les Halles, the drum kit perched just a few feet from my seat, there was no ignoring the inventiveness of his playing with a scarcely a bebop cliché to be heard. With Larry Kohut punctuating the dialogue with spare bass lines, the conversation never flagged. Arriale herself is not afraid of unfurling simple, hymn-like melodies that, in the wrong hands, might sound sentimental. Arise, inspired by the events of 9/11, possesses a fragile beauty. Her sunny but never lightweight cover of the Beatles' tune, Blackbird, is said to have made an impression on Paul McCartney himself.


Downbeat Magazine review – Solo

The original “La Noche” embraces that kind of big-picture aesthetic, as a sweeping darkness teases its way through every few bars, counteracting the decisive and strong touch that connotes a different aspect of one’s experience of the night.  Arriale’s arrangement of Thelonious Monk’s “Bye-Ya” offers a more introspective and less rhythmic riff on what Monk and John Coltrane did with the tune.  The spacing allows breathing room for one hand to approximate what would have been the saxophone’s melodic theme, while the other tackles Monk’s dexterous part.  The disc closes with a nod to Arriale’s penchant for setting lyrical pop tunes to instrumental music, although her choice of Billy Joel’s lamentation “And So It Goes” provides the ideal baseline for Arriale’s fearless delves into the beauty of melancholia. "     Jennifer Odell


New York Times

"Lynne Arriale's, brilliant musicianship and bandstand instincts place her among the top jazz pianists of the day. Even though there are hundreds of superb pianists residing today in the jazz world, the major recording labels would like you to believe that only a handful really matter. In recent years the high-profile publicity and marketing campaigns trumpeting thirty-something ivoryists Brad Mehldau and Jacky Terrasson, for example, has effectively shadowed the work of many of their peers, and detrimentally so. After all, the traditions and vanguards of jazz are actually carried on the backs of many, and not just a few, artists, regardless of the notions that Ken Burns and others proffer. "One of the sparkling entities to be found in the penumbra of the chosen few is Lynne Arriale, whose brilliant musicianship, ebullience and bandstand instincts certainly place her among the top instrumentalists of the day. Like so many jazz musicians, though, her talents and accomplishments are grossly under-appreciated here in the United States. Being a woman (and not a singer, still a drawback in the genre even in our so-called enlightened, post-feminist age), a nomadic existence by trade and the lack of major label support all contribute in obscuring her merits as an artist. "Arriale's CD, Live at Montreux, is a real treasure and ample proof that she is worth regarding closely. Listening to Live at Montreux it occurred to me there was no overall thematic framework or gimmick attached to the music. It wasn't a songbook collection either; and there were no special guest stars flown (or phoned) in to lay down solos. It's just a wholly enjoyable album that finds an artist in the spotlight with a carefully chosen program of music. Take from the album what you will--consciously or not, this is what seems to be the ethos here, which, in my mind, is always the best compliment an artist can give an audience. The last song on Live at Montreux, the show's encore, is a rendition of "An Affair to Remember," which Arriale plays as a riveting solo that could work as the soundtrack for a breaking heart."


JazzTimes review of “Solo”

The specter of Monk -- long a source of inspiration and repertoire for Arriale--rears itself twice more on Solo, on new looks at his “Evidence” and “Bye-Ya.”  On 2000’s Live at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the former is given a somewhat ominous, bass-driven reading while here, Arriale relies on her left hand to keep the bottom moving along while skittering merrily and daringly with her right. Whether taking on Cole Porter (“What Is This Thing Called Love?”, Billy Joel (a surprisingly soulful and melancholic “And So it Goes”) or presenting one of her own (the beautifully framed ballad “Arise,” the classically informed “Dance’), Arriale proves as comfortable in a solo setting as she’s been in the company of others."   Jeff Tamarkin


The London Times -Culture

"Something of a latecomer to jazz - classical piano studies consumed her energies at first - Lynne Arriale has never made any secret of her debt to Keith Jarrett. It says something for her gifts as a lyrical improviser that her music - taut, melodic and self-disciplined - regularly puts his Standards Trio in the shade. Arise is another winner. Arriale's eye for unusual material keeps repetition at bay: American Woman and Egberto Gismonti's Frévo are both dazzingly fresh, while the original numbers, including the exhilarating Esperanza and Upswing, are no less seductive."


Boston Globe

Some piano trios are all about the individual virtuosity of their members or focus on complex, iconoclastic arrangements. Lynne Arriale's trio gives primary place to group empathy. The communication she shares with longtime drummer Steve Davis and frequent bassist Jay Anderson produces interpretations of familiar themes that glow with a sense of proportion and coherence that is all the more effective for being so uncommon. "Time and again during the trio's opening set at Scullers, one sensed shaping hands that valued complete statements over momentary flourishes. Tempos and dynamics evolved organically, choruses swelled and settled, yet a strong rhythmic pulse ensured constant strength and momentum. At times the music seemed to be played in the air without ever suggesting directionless drift. The musicians had worked together enough to sense where spontaneous accents would fall and seemed to be inventing out of a shared metabolism. "Arriale's style is thoughtful and lean. She coaxed ideas from the keyboard rather than attacking it, and sustained contrast by moving from brisk, quizzical patterns to terse rhythmic variations. While her faster solos mined a familiar vernacular, the phrases were inevitably well placed, and her ballad readings of ''Estate'' and ''The Nearness of You'' were awash in thoughtfully conceived melody. Anderson and Davis, superb musicians who suggested the capacity to dazzle with virtuosity had they so chosen, each took a more selfless approach. The bassist turned in excellent solos, with just enough technique to spice his warm, melodic conception and never played two notes in support where one would suffice. Davis employed a quiet physicality that made each stroke a visual experience and extracted every conceivable texture from his kit. "What stood out more than individual contributions was the way Arriale's trio sculpted each tune into a distinctive entity. Chick Corea's ''Tones for Joan's Bones'' was stated in alternating arcs of swing and lyricism, Bobby Scott's ''Feelin' Good'' became a quietly intent African processional, and Thelonious Monk's ''Bemsha Swing'' surrounded a funky underlying beat with passages of playful free-form. Most intruiging of all were the vamp endings that allowed Arriale, Anderson, and Davis to extend ''Feelin' Good,'' ''Estate,'' and ''Beautiful Love.'' These were seductive reveries that served the music rather than calling attention to themselves - Keith Jarrett minus the angst and the sense that a good thing had been taken to wearying extremes. Then again, knowing just how much is enough may be Arriale's greatest strength." Bob Blumenthal, The Boston Globe


United Press International

Pianist Lynne Arriale has just released her newest -- and perhaps finest -- CD. It's a trio session called "Arise" that showcases the chemistry of her decade-old group with bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Steve Davis. She is a wonderful player and arranger who wrote four of the nine tunes for the project, which is filled with the sparkling clarity that graces her music. It also is a perfect fit for the new San Francisco-based Motema Music label. In Lingala, a language from Congo and Zaire in central Africa, "motema" means "heart." The CD has much to offer in the breadth and range of material. The title track, "Arise," is an uplifting ballad of hope and promise.   continue reading


Irish Times

Although trained in classical music, pianist Lynne Arriale was seduced by jazz in her 20s. Now, for her and her trio, the melody comes first, writes Ray Comiskey. Finding melodies is the biggest challenge of all," says Lynne Arriale. She was speaking of her engagement with the art and craft of composition, but she might also have been describing her own work as a jazz pianist. As one of the most melodic players around, she's emphatic about the importance and primacy of melody. It's one of the qualities that distinguishes her in a diverse, high-calibre field. Jazz piano, where abundant technique and acute harmonic knowledge are merely tools to start the job with, is not for the faint-hearted. A penchant for innovation or the radical may help, sooner or later, to attract attention; for the long haul, however, you have to match it with musical substance. Yet it's more difficult to express individuality by working, as she does, within the accepted conventions of bop and the related elements of post-bop piano. It calls for a patient, diligent refinement of the craft, rather than any grand gestures. Behind it is the hope or, if you're lucky, the confidence, that you'll find your own voice, as she has done. En route, she has been often compared to one of the greatest of all jazz pianists, the late Bill Evans, but it's difficult to detect any sign of this in her playing; she has said that her lines were never like his at any stage. In fact, detecting any jazz pianist's influences in her work is hard. Was this because she was classically trained, didn't go near jazz until she abruptly switched in her 20s, and therefore brought no jazz baggage with her? "Well, actually that might be part of the situation," she agrees, "but when I first started out, the first five years I sounded like I was imitating Cedar Walton - you don't hear that now - and Gene Harris for a while, and then Thelonious Monk a little bit. "And later Keith Jarrett was an influence, but more than listening and saying, 'Oh, God, what is that?' Because with Keith, I mean, his melodies are so - there's such a purity, he doesn't play clichés. On a conceptual level, he's a great influence because you never hear him doing the same thing. So I thought to myself , 'Oh, my God, that's a whole different way of approaching it'." Jarrett is notorious for singing as he solos. It can be heard on just about every piano recording he's done; and though Arriale can plead not guilty here, it gave her an idea she has used ever since, even with her students .. Convinced the originality of his lines comes from singing, she started singing away from the piano during practice time. It's not an outlandish idea. In scat singing - wordless, improvised vocals of the great Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie - the phrases they create are vocal clones of their trumpet playing, stamped with the unique fingerprints of their creative personalities. "When you sit and sing a solo away from your instrument," she explains, "it cuts through everything you may have practised. Now, you've got to practise, obviously, but when you sing I think it takes you to your unconscious mind much more readily. And then when you play, all of a sudden you're playing things that you didn't even practise - and where does that come from?" Another huge influence is pianist Richie Beirach, whom she calls a mentor, teacher and friend. "What's been most influential is his explaining to me about motivic development, taking an idea like" - she hums the famous opening to Beethoven's Fifth - "and learning how to develop it. "And I still continue to work very hard at that, because the motivic continuity, of taking a seed and letting it sprout and grow, and developing it musically, is a tremendous challenge. It's not just about playing like, you know, long lines and lots of licks. It's about telling a story, beginning, middle and end." Her own musical story began when she was four. Classically trained, she got a degree in piano performance at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music before being suddenly seduced by jazz in her early 20s. And that demanding, show-me-what-you-can-do world sat up and took notice when she won the International Great American Jazz Competition in Jacksonville, Florida 10 years ago. Although she has worked on various projects since then, her natural home is the piano trio. That seems unlikely to change. She likes its capacity to combine intimacy and flexibility, to have an orchestral sound and yet be capable of quick changes of direction. "The extent to which we stretch the music is just only limited by your own imagination," she says. Her present trio, formed in 1999 with bassist Jay Anderson and long-time colleague, drummer Steve Davis, is probably her finest yet. She compares it to a relationship that has gone on a long time, where the chemistry is present and the relationship has therefore, inevitably, deepened. So how do they keep staleness at bay? "If you look deeply into the eyes of the person that you love," she answers, expanding on the relationship comparison, "and you just are kind of quiet in your own mind, and just look at them and listen to the sound of their voice, and listen to them speaking and what they're saying, it cannot become stale. If you are truly present with each other I don't think you have to come up with ways of keeping things fresh, because every person on the planet is constantly changing, moving and growing. "And it's the exact same thing in music. Yes, I bring new material to the group, and we're always adding things, but by the same token, musicians have a way of saying - in fact I've heard Jay and Steve say this about each other - Steve will say, 'yes, Jay is always here to play', and Jay will say the same thing about Steve 'he's always a 100 per cent present and accounted for and right there'. "In other words, he's not distracted. He is completely at one with the music and tuned in to the other members of the group. It's like we're just locked up. It's like the laser beam just kind of connected us all. And if that happens there's no way it can go stale." Piano trios with a chemistry like hers have been likened to musical conversations. Typically, she has her own slant on the analogy which, she says, is so often taken to mean a conversation of straightforward statement and response, or question and answer. "It's not like that in our trio, because if we're waiting for the response we're not in the flow of the music. "I'm going to change the analogy," she adds. "You have three people looking out of a window at a beautiful setting. One person says, 'Oh, my God, these trees are absolutely gorgeous', and another person's saying, 'Yeah, look at those leaves, the beautiful shading of those leaves'. "Now, they are listening to one another, but also reacting to the scene. These people are actually absorbed in it, so they're kind of hearing the person talk, but they're also just so absorbed in it that they're having their own response at the same time. And there's this kind of cloudy thing going on where you're not just fixated on the object. You're hearing what the other people are saying, peripherally almost, and you're responding to it." It's a perfect description of the way her own trio - and similarly inclined groups, no matter how radically different they might be in other ways - works. What it doesn't say is the rigorous craft, won the hard way, that supports the chemistry and the creativity. And Arriale works at it. Apart from her distinctive approach to playing, for her as a composer the melody comes first. She doesn't fall into the trap - that so many jazz musicians do - of hitting on a chord sequence that might be attractive to improvise over and then finding some kind of original line to lay on top of it to serve as a tune. The pieces that result generally lack real character. "They couldn't stand alone," she agrees. "However, if you take Wayne Shorter's tunes, or Herbie Hancock's, those are great melodies. They stand alone." So do the originals on her newest album, Arise, which were written in response to 9/11. But we will probably be able to confirm that, and much else besides, when she opens her tour in Dublin next Tuesday. 


Irish Times

Coach House - Dublin Castle

According to a doubtless tongue-in-cheek Oscar Wilde, consistency is the infirmity of lesser minds. When the Lynne Arriale Trio opened their Music Network Irish tour at the Coach House on Wednesday, they demonstrated, yet again, that consistency is one of their virtues, and that it's not accompanied by infirmity or any evidence of diminished mental faculties. Poised, polished and professional, they offered the kind of bop-influenced mainstream piano trio music that, in the hands of musicians as good as this, wears its age well. It was also, as anyone who knows Arriale's music, highly melodic and suffused with concern for structured development. It's based on a repertoire of familiar standards, laced with some not so familiar, one or two jazz staples, some originals by the leader and even a Lennon/McCartney song, Blackbird. And the group's emotional range extended from beautifully played ballads, on which it was possible to savour the pianist's exquisite touch and sense of note placement, to almost euphoric Latin pieces and uncompromisingly driven up-tempo performances. The music was also carefully and thoughtfully structured; just how much is not altogether easy to say, because the kind of empathy displayed by the leader, bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Steve Davis was breathtaking at times. And they have also developed little cues which they use individually to tip off the others about solo endings and arranged passages. The first set was notable for the trio's impressively nuanced control of dynamics, especially on the out choruses. Standouts included a rapturous performance of the gorgeous Estate, a savoury exploration of the seldom played Beautiful Love, an ingratiatingly witty It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing, and a deceptively simple, heartfelt exposition of her own ballad, Arise, whose lovely harmonies sounded like they were suggested by the melody, not the other way round, as too often happens with jazz originals. The best, however, was reserved for the second set. Thelonious Monk's Bemsha Swing had an exhilarating sense of discovery about it as they shook some seasoning of their own over this thoroughly idiosyncratic composition; and despite what they added to it, the original flavour stubbornly refused to go away - a compliment to both the piece and the trio's inventiveness and sensitivity. But if anything caught another dimension of the group - the sheer poetry that Arriale and her colleagues are capable of - it was a moving exploration of The Nearness Of You, with one of Anderson's best solos of the night. Arriale, following on, gave a classic example of her ability to use motivic development to sustain a solo which was, in effect, a gorgeous piece of storytelling with a beginning, middle and end. One to savor. Ray Comiskey


New Yorker Magazine

Best Jazz Albums

What keeps a song in a jazz musician's heart these days is anyone's guess. The past few years have seen the major labels all but turn their backs on the genre: the high-profile buzz of Ken Burns's 2001 documentary never translated into solid sales increases, nor has the hunger for all things American spread to our own classical music. Yet jazz has weathered slumps before (older players still remember the pop-infested sixties and seventies with a shudder). For the most stolid of contemporary jazzmen and women, judging from some of the finer recordings released this year, solace seems to reside in the bedrock of melody. Lynne Arriale, "Inspiration" (TCB). The pianist Arriale, who forthrightly titled a 1999 album "Melody," knows the value of something that's too often overlooked by improvisation-worshipping jazz fans: a great tune. This lyrical player and her sharp-eared trio embrace the songcraft that links Keith Jarrett's "So Tender" to Burt Bacharach's "A House Is Not a Home," and Abdullah Ibrahim's "Mountain of the Night" to Lennon and McCartney's "Blackbird."


Female Magazine

Talk about a lady whose got chops! Check her out! Lynne Arriale has her keys under passionate control. Arise follows her CD, Inspiration, which hit #1 on U.S Jazz Radio in 2002. From traditional covers to new compositions, Lynne's trio is a complete compact jazz package. Familiar melodies blend into swirls of variated themes, leaving one saying "I know this song,........ but do I?". Emotions pour as Lynne treats her best friend, the piano, to a meticulously arranged song selection. Bassist Jay Anderson captures a great bass tone and shows off his personality in the rock classic, American Women, when he breaks into a playful solo. Drummer, Steve Davis, displays tasty breathing space in every tune. Break open the wine , cook your favorite meal, set the tone for a romantic evening, and make sure the Lynne Arriale Trio is spinning in your disc player.


The Lady Can Play!

Together with bassist Jay Anderson and drummer Steve Davis, Arriale turns in some very tasty work, starting with the opening “Frevo,” and moving through the soft and soothing title track and the rapid-fire “Upswing.” The music is very accessible, and Arriale aims to entice even non-jazz fans with her most intriguing selection of material. It’s been a long time since anyone made the traditional “Kum Ba Ya,” sound contemporary, but the trio pulls it off. And the disc’s biggest surprise – a deliciously reworked version of The Guess Who’s “American Woman” – is dark, but deeply alluring. The Republican