What People Say About "STAY TUNED"
STAY TUNED--Sea Breeze Jazz SB-3049. Sea Breeze Jazz, P.O. Box 1910, Pisino Beach, CA 93448-1910; Website:www.seabreezeiazz.com
Warne-ing; Sweet And Lovely; Confirmation,Bass (And Tenor) Tune; Alone Together; Like Someone In Love; Beautiful Love; Eiderdown; Up Jumped Spring; Bailing.
PERSONNEL: Gerard Hagen, piano; Domenic Genova, Henry Franklin, bass; Jerry Kalaf, drums; Chuck Manning. tenor saxophone; Larry Koonse, guitar.
"a source of ideas ... continuous depth throughout each track"
As Jazz Improv presents in this issue the country's breadth of jazz piano talent, some well known and some should-be-known, Gerald Hagen represents the Los Angeles scene. Recording his second album as a leader, Hagen performs with a clarity and spur of the moment response to just-occurring ideas as he admires, and then reshapes, ten tunes. Always in front as the leader of the tunes, Hagen nonetheless allows the other members of his group to shine, some of whom, such as Jerry Kalaf and Larry Koonse, have already recorded separately on the Sea Breeze Jazz label.
The excellence of Hagen's work on Stay Tuned is of such a high level that one would have expected him to be better known beyond the West Coast. Starting the album with "Warneing," a tune written over the changes of "What Is This Thing Called Love," Hagen at first employs a block-chord technique reminiscent of Shearing's, especially when Koonse plays the top notes of the chords as well. But when Hagen breaks loose into solos, it becomes evident that he is possessed of a swing and improvisational imagination that causes the listener to pay attention. Avoiding musical cliches and never repeating himself, Hagen seems to be a source of ideas, approachable while attaining, continuous depth throughout each track. Sure enough, on "Warne-ing." Hagen's and Koonse's extended solos evolve into a trading of fours with drummer Kalaf.
Speaking of whom, Kalaf, while making the melodic instrumentalists sound even better with his sympathetic energy, is an important part of the CD as well. Not only did Kalaf help master the recordings, but also he composed two of the more interesting tunes: "Bass (And Tenor) Tune" and "Bailing." Both expand upon an intriguing musical concept for fulfillment, "Bass (And Tenor) Tune" swirling in a 6/8 minorkeyed whirlwind of ever-increasing intensity and cohesion; and, "Bailing" involving the extension of long-and-then-halting melodic lines over light percussive colors. In addition, Kalaf's technique is such that he chooses just the right embellishments for Hagen's work, softly brushing the cymbals on "Beautiful Love" or subtly rumbling behind Hagen during his rubato introductions, such as the one on "Sweet And Lovely."
Consisting of mature musicians with an instinctive knowledge of where the others in the group may go, Hagen's trio (or, quintet on some tracks) moves as a solid yet flexible unit. On "Eiderdown," for instance, Koonse and Hagen trade the melodic lines, one minimally accompanying the other, before rejoining for a final statement before the solo section. Or, on "Alone Together," Hagen's always-entrancing lead-in consisting of chord substitutions and unhurried exposition with its internal harmonies evolves into Mannings' affecting tenor sax solo, unfailingly in the groove while he generates his own fire.
Hagen's reassuring touch, whether in the buildup of his solos or in the densely chorded lead-ins to the tracks, makes effective use of the instrument in expressing his thoughts, even as the technical precision of his attack invites analysis. Stay Tuned is a well thought-out CD that is consistent in its richness and confident performance, even as the spirit of the tunes may change to suit the intentions of the composers.
LA Jazz Scene
GERARD HAGEN TRIO
(Sea Breeze Jazz)
As a jazz fan I am always grateful when performers document their trajectory by recording. It's been three years since their well-received debut album Far Horizons appeared on the Resurgent Music label. After four years of playing together, bassist Domenic Genova, composers Jerry Kalaf (drums) and Gerard Hagen (piano) lined up special guests Chuck Manning, Larry Koonse and Henry Franklin to produce their latest offering, a program of both standards and two Kalaf originals.
Gary Foster's "Warne-ing" swings off the disk as the trio provides a foil for Larry Koonse's lickety-split guitar picking.
Sweet and Lovely" opens with a new nwist, broadly phrased, that then springs into a jaunty tempo. The standard lets the soloists strut within a familiar vehicle. Hagen's melodic lines go down so smoothly.
With Manning on board the trio takes on Charlie Parker's "Confirmation."The rich motific tapestry of Kalaf's "Bass (and Tenor) Tune" is also graced by Chuck Manning's sax.
The seemingly lost in limerence piano intro to "Alone Together" gives way to Henry Franklin's driving bass work.
"Like Someone in Love," "Beautiful Love" and "Eiderdown" by Steve Swallow are followed by "Up Jumped Spring" as a radiant, fresh jazz waltz.
You can catch the Gerard Hagen Trio live (no cover) and pick up your own copy of their new entry from 8 PM to midnight on Tuesday, October 30 at Steamers Cafe in Fullerton.
Jazz Scene Portland OR KMHD Radio
Stay Tuned, Gerard Hagen, piano.
Some time back I reviewed an earlier album by Gerard Hagen and I recall that I was most impressed with him at that time. I've not wavered in that opinion with this new release. He's a player who recognizes the value of space, and he also happens to possess a great touch and an overall high sense of musicality His basic trio is joined here and there by guests Chuck Manning on tenor and Larry Koonse on guitar and all account very well for themselves. The album kicks off with a Gary Foster line on the changes to What Is This Thing Called Love. It's called Warne-ing (for tenorman Warne Marsh) and employs an especially nice ride for Hagen and Koonse. Sweet And Lovelv is taken at a modest, walking tempo while Confirmation introduces Manning's tenor in cool, controlled fashion. Other highlights include Alone Together, Like Someone In Love, Beautiful Love and Up Jumped Spring. Hagen handles solo and comping tasks with skill, energy and class. Next time vou're in LA, check the jazz listings and see where he's playing.
Sea Breeze, 2001; Playing Time- 65:36, ****
All Music Guide
GERARD HAGEN Stay Tuned
Sea Breeze Records
Gerard Hagen's Stay Tuned establishes two distinctive jazz climates. When the group gets into original or jazz standard material, it takes on a progressive jazz mien. "Bass (and Tenor) Tune" is a thoughtful and musically broad-minded interchange between the forward-looking bass of Domenic Genova and guest artist Chuck Manning on tenor. The trio puts on another face when it comes to the classic standards. Not that they play them straightforward, note for note. Hagen's pianistic extemporizing on "Beautiful Love" is delightful as he executes fluttering runs, putting the entire keyboard into play.
Nonetheless, there is a mainstream jazz feeling about it, with a flavor not unlike that embedded in early groups headed by Kenny Drew. In addition to Manning, the experienced and respected guitar styling of Larry Koonse enhances a couple of cuts. The major contribution comes on Steve Swallow's "Eiderdown," where he and Genova, a bass player of considerable talent, work in tandem to produce an engaging chorus or two. Hagen has a special way with the piano that sets him apart from today's young lions. He is gently respectful of melody, avoiding pianistic gymnastics and chord bashing. "Up Jumped Spring," as much as any track, captures the precious singing tones Hagen gets out of the instrument. Even when another member of the trio starts to blaze, such as Jerry Kalaf's drums on "Sweet and Lovely," the piano player holds himself in check. The session is in no way limited to thoughtful ruminations. Hagen leads the way, with Koonse's clear, ringing guitar in tow, on a tastefully swinging "Warne-ing," Gary Foster's paean to Warne Marsh. Based on this excellent multi-dimensional outing, Hagen shows he is a stylist to be reckoned with.
All About Jazz January 17, 2002
REVIEWS Stay Tuned
The Gerard Hagen Trio (Sea Breeze)
It’s easy to Stay Tuned when one hears Jazz as handsomely crafted as that played by pianist Gerard Hagen, his trio and guests — tenor Chuck Manning, guitarist Larry Koonse and bassist Henry Franklin. This is one of those special albums on which every component slides neatly into place and everyone has his chance to shine. Having said that, it should be noted that there is nothing here that can be construed as setting Hagen and his companions apart from many another group whose members are as enthusiastic and talented as they. In other words, there are no transcendent voices here; everyone is simply quite good at what he does, which entails softening his voice when required and improvising at a consistently high level. Hagen, bassist Domenic Genova and drummer Jerry Kalaf (who wrote “Bass [and Tenor] Tune” and “Bailing Out”) have been playing together for about four years and have developed a close rapport that encourages ease of movement within an orderly framework. Hagen sidesteps monotony by adding Larry Koonse’s bracing guitar on four selections, Chuck Manning’s supple tenor sax on three others. Bassist Henry Franklin, who sat in for Genova during a recent trio gig in San Francisco, does the same on Charlie Parker’s “Confirmation” and the Howard Dietz / Arthur Schwartz standard “Alone Together.” The trio is “alone together” on three numbers, “Sweet and Lovely,” “Beautiful Love” and a charmingly graceful reading of Freddie Hubbard’s “Up Jumped Spring.” Koonse adds spice whenever he appears, especially on the sunny opener, Gary Foster’s “Warne–ing,” and is a paragon of mellow swing on Johnny Burke / Jimmy van Heusen’s “Like Someone in Love.” Hagen, a romanticist with a mean right hand, is never less than impressive, while Kalaf and Genova (or Franklin) offer a strong rhythmic backbone on which to maneuver. A well–cooked serving of trio Jazz (with tasty side dishes) that’s a pleasure to digest.
Contact: Sea Breeze Records, P.O. Box 1910, Pismo Beach, CA 93448–1910. Phone 818–489–2055.
Track Listing: Warne–ing; Sweet and Lovely; Confirmation; Bass (and Tenor) Tune; Alone Together; Like Someone in Love; Beautiful Love; Eiderdown; Up Jumped Spring; Bailing (65:36).
Personnel: Gerard Hagen, piano; Domenic Genova, bass; Jerry Kalaf, drums. Special guests — Chuck Manning, tenor saxophone; Larry Koonse, guitar; Henry Franklin (3, 5), bass.
Really nice trio/quartet. An excellent program, very well done by all. I'm familiar with Henry Franklin's past work but I'm happy to meet the other guests.
--Jack Simpson, Jazz on the Beach
Gerard Hagen is another artist drawing listeners here at WOBO, particularly his "Sweet and Lovely". It swings delicately with a strong rhythm background.
--Larry Routt WOBO Radio, Cincinnati, OH
A very solid and swinging date from obviously experienced players.
--Lenny Mazel, KCME Radio, Colorado Springs, CO
They cook on these ten songs with good help from guest artists ... Hagen shines on the softer mellow cuts like "Up Jumped Spring". It's very nicely balanced.
--D. Oscar Groomes, O's Place Jazz Newsletter, Maplewood, NJ
Pianist Gerard Hagen along with bassist Domenic Genova, and drummer Jerry Kalaf, have been playing since 1997 as The Gerard Hagen Trio. Critics and jazz fans alike credit him and his trio for their elegant lyricism, their polished sound, and their ability to connect with each other and with the audience. They are a trio of, says LA Jazz Scene magazine, "consummate musicians," who have just released their second CD in their four years of performing and recording together. The Gerard Hagen Trio's first CD, FAR HORIZONS, came out in 1997 and critics heralded it as "an exciting debut for a gifted pianist and his accomplished young trio" (Ken Borgers of KLON in Long Beach).
With their follow up CD, STAY TUNED (Sea Breeze 2001), Gerard Hagen and his Trio reveal the benefits of working and playing together as a unit. LA Jazz Scene says that this trio keeps "pulling an endless supply of different textures out of their bag, fascinating the crowd, weaving intensities together, never the same way."