BILL BEACH, piano & vocals
The Oregonian, Friday, January 28, 2005
Back to his roots
Until two years ago, few people knew that pianist and composer Bill Beach was also a singer. Although he began his jazz career as a singing pianist in 1974, Beach soon found the market more hospitable to a straight-ahead piano player. And when he started working with drummer Ron Steen in 1984, piano became his sole focus.
That attention to the keyboard has paid off: Beach is one of the city's top jazz pianists. But on his debut CD, "Letting Go," Beach returns to his roots with five vocal tunes. What's more, they're all in beautifully articulated Portuguese.
While he was working with a singer who specializes in Brazilian music, Beach began learning the language of Joao Gilberto and Antonio Carlos Jobim. With a vocal range similar to Gilberto and a program of continual listening and classes, the process of mastering Brazilian standards, including "Sorriu para Mim," proved easy. His light voice, mixed below the piano, bass (Dave Captein) and drums (Reinhardt Melz), give these tunes a wistful, classic Brazilian sound.
Five Beach originals and five pop and jazz standards demonstrate his keyboard skills. Legato lines flow effortlessly, and lush chord voicings never obscure his clean touch and rhythmic dexterity. Beach's strength as an ensemble player comes through in the tight, interactive trio sound.
This CD originated because Beach wanted to record some music for his late sister, Alice, to listen to during her last days. The waltz he wrote for her memorial service, "Alice Annette," started him composing again, tunes such as the pensive "Dreams Deferred" and the brightly swinging "Oakville Road" followed. The only odd choice is the inclusion of "People," a tune that can't be redeemed even by excellent musicianship.
CD Rating: A
Jazz Society of Oregon
Jazzscene magazine, January 2005
Bill Beach CD solid
Letting Go, Bill Beach, piano,vocals. Over many years of
playing, Bill Beach has established himself as one of Portland¹s most admired jazz piano players. To my knowledge, this is Beach¹s initial CD under his own name, and it is a winner on several accounts. First of all, we are treated to five BB originals including the sprightly, swinging Oakville Road and a wistful waltz, Alice Annette, named for Beach¹s late sister who passed away earlier this year. The surprise of the CD is Beach¹s inclusion of some half dozen bossa compositions, mostly from the great Antonio Carlos Jobim. And for a huge bonus, try Bill Beach, singer, on these lovely Brazilian classics. Beach displays a warm and gentle vocal approach to these songs, much like Jobim himself. And to my ear, his Portuguese is flawlessly delivered. His choice of standards includes I Hear A Rhapsody, People and the rarely heard Where Is Love. With Portland aces Dave Captein, bass and Reinhardt Melz, drums, Bill Beach lives up to the consistency he¹s shown as one of our most creative and swinging piano cats. Add the new dimension of some splendid vocals, and you have a recording sure to lift your spirit and put some sunshine in your day. for more info: 503-234-5014 or billbeach.com.
Self-produced, 2004; Playing Time: 60:53, ****.
Letting Go, Bill Beach, piano. Beach is a favorite on the Portland circuit, and this disc will do nothing but further his reputation. The songs are a pleasing mix of original compositions and Jobim bossas, along with scattered others. Mostly, though, the trio disc, featuring bassist Dave Captein and drummer Reinhardt Melz is cohesive in its approach and execution. The three musicians work together flawlessly. Melz is perfectly suited to his Latin rhythm approach, as on the propelling "Oakville Road," where he lays down polyrhythms to complement Beach's fresh and exact comping and Captein's agile bass playing. And guess what, Beach is a pretty darned good singer too. He tackles Jobim tunes in their native Portuguese and does a fine job, doing them in a sort of talking sing-song, much like Joao Gilberto, and only slightly less smoothly than a native speaker. The album also features songs that are a tribute to his late sister, Alice. The waltz, "Alice Annette" is a lovely musical memory of her. The only song that doesn't quite mesh is "People," which, even with chord alterations, can't shake the stigma of Streisand's overwrought delivery from decades back. Overall, though, this disc deserves to be in every local jazz fan's collection. Bill Beach, 2004; Playing Time: 59:33, ****.
from Audiophile Audition, June 2005
Tasteful pianist in tuneful settings embelished with his laid-back vocals on some bossa nova tunes
Bill Beach, piano & vocals - Letting Go (with Dave Captein, bass; Reinhardt Melz, drums) - no # [www.billbeach.com]
One of many artist-released jazz CDs that should be getting more exposure but probably isn't. Beach has a nice relaxed keyboard style and a pleasant voice on the vocal tracks. He leans toward a bossa nova stance in many of the tracks, and his vocals on such as Jobim's Water to Drink are well-suited to his mild and unforced singing style. I was reminded of Tania Maria's livePlier treatment of this tune, but not disappointed. The strictly instrumental Sudden Samba is a kick, with some interesting developments during its nearly seven-minute length.
The title and opening tune begins with a nice melody expressed in fifths. Jobim and Gilberto are among the bossa nova sources in the tunes. Mention should be made of the extremely clean and impactful sonics on this disc - as good as some SACDs I've been reviewing lately.
Tunes: Letting Go, Oakville Road, Vivo Sonhando, Water to Drink, People, Sudden Samba, Nancy Maria, Dreams Deferred, She Smiled at Me, Alice Annette, I Hear a Rhapsody, Lamento, Where is Love?, Only Trust Your Heart, So Danco Samba. [www.billbeach.com]
- John Henry
In a performing career that spans more that 25 years Bill Beach has performed with many jazz legends including Joe Henderson, Bobby Hutcherson, Eddie Harris, Howard Roberts, Mark Murphy, Charlie Rouse, Frank Morgan, Jimmy Cobb and Nat Adderley.
He has studied with Marian McPartland,
Jack DeJohnette and Warren Bernhardt.
Bill has performed in Japan, Mexico, England, Holland and Belgium. Release of his CD, "Letting Go" is scheduled for November of 2004.
Ron Steen, "Aquamarine"
Tom Grant, "Nice Work If You Can Get It"
Tall Jazz, "Emerger"
Mary Kadderly, "Lullaby of the Leaves"
Mary Kadderly, "Christmas Memories"
Nancy Curtin, "Songs from Brazil"
Ron Steen, "Live at Produce Row Cafe"
OPB, "PDX Jazz Summit
KATU, "A.M. Northwest"
KOIN, "Around Town"
"A longtime favorite of discerning Portland jazzers."
-George Fendel, Our Town Magazine, KMHD radio
"Conveys a pure essence of piano jazz that is sweet, lovely and irresistable."
"His solos emerge in a crisp lyricism that is engaged, resonant and consistently
-Rebecca Webb, KINK radio