Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Piano: the other percussion instrument Part 3

My first post in this series was simply titled Piano: the other percussion instrument, with Part 2 - examples posted on its heels. The motivation for posting a third part in the series is the discovery of an excellent thesis by Thomas Andrew Van Seters and some new albums on the market.

The thesis is titled Eighty-Eight Drums: The Piano as a Percussion Instrument in Jazz and is comprehensive, and not the typical dry fare of academia. I found it engaging, and an easy read. It helps if you can read music and have some understanding of theory, but that is not absolutely required. If you find yourself drawn by the history and want to explore some of the true beginnings, check out Unique perspectives on blues (and jazz). If you are not that curious, but are still interested in the evolution of jazz, I recommend Hear Me Talkin' to Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told by the Men Who Made It.

On to some of the new albums I mentioned. Two of them were previously mentioned in my 05 October 2012 post, so I won't repeat myself here:

  1. Kind of Powell
  2. Kind of Silver
The other two are Kind of Monk and Kind of Peterson. Note that Powell and Monk are two of my holy trinity of pianists.

Regardless of your interest in piano - as a percussion instrument or otherwise - Thelonious Monk should be on your list of music to study. If for no other reason, you should dig into his music because of the drummers he recorded with: Ben Riley, Shadow Wilson, Philly Joe Jones and Frankie Dunlop to name but a few. More importantly, Monk had an amazing rhythmic feel and did things with time that will challenge you no matter how solid you are. Still not convinced? Check out Thelonious Monk: American genius and drummer's patron saint. If your interest is piqued, then do grab Kind of Monk:

Here is a taste to whet your appetite - Monk with Philly Joe Jones:

The next set that is new on the market and well worth snagging is Kind of Peterson. You will be treated to not only one of the world's great pianists (Oscar ranked up there with Art Tatum), but a masterclass in tasteful brushwork from Ed Thigpen, plus amazing examples of how drummers and bassists can work magic thanks to Ray Brown.

I'll wrap up with one final clip of a pianist you should be studying: Nina Simone. Her style was percussive and driving as shown here:

Check out Nina Simone's Greatest Hits for some excellent examples. Also check out Nat King Cole Trio for even more examples, and this time sans drummer.

Hopefully I will return to more regular posting here. Life sometimes gets in the way, but this should keep you busy if you follow all of the links.

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