Maj. Jesse Carnes
Jazz of the Highest Order
I have been familiar with the Matt Savage Trio for about 2 years now, and I am hard to impress, to be honest. My ear is well ... ruthless! It always has been. Well, with the inception of this CD, I AM impressed now: very impressed!
This CD, entitled QUANTUM LEAP is a Massive Jump forward by Warp Drive. This collection of songs (the majority of which were written by pianist Matt Savage) speaks volumes, indicating how FAR his mind has come in music theory in just the past 2 or 3 years. As a pianist and composer, I am of the opinion that Matt is already at the PhD level of musical performance. This album bears out that opinion. As a buttress to my opinion, Dave Brubeck and Chick Corea already believe that Matt's future should undoubtedly be stellar, if things continue as they have been.
So ... HOW is this CD different than previous Matt Savage Trio recordings? Firstly, Matt has physically grown, and this means that his arms and hands can now readily take in the length of a concert piano. One clearly notices this in the song, "A Child is Born." This piece, in particular, denotes strong ability on Matt's part to implement high-order pedal technique and the upper register of the piano to produce a Legato effect of lush and vividly dreamy music. Many passages have the perspicuous but lucid effect of Frederic Chopin's nocturnes.
In another song, "Serenity", one notes that Matt's attack is much more determined and focused and he uses 3rd, 5th and 6th intervals to a moving harmonic effect. And yet, one also notes the precision use of timing and delicate allargando which comes only with maturity. As implied earlier, the listener hears the implementation of classical music's "Brilliant Style" whereby Matt is able to play both ends of the piano simultaneously. The effect is a big, concert sound which was employed in the classical piano compositions of Rachmaninoff, Chopin, and Tchaikovsky. It is all within Matt Savage's physical reach, and Matt's mind has expanded as well, as his original compositions indicate in this recording.
The song, "Curacao", is a showcase of wonderfully juxtaposed rhythms and chord-structures. Many of the harmonies are "close-hand" harmonies and simply stunning to the EAR as they alternate up-and-down. That song, alone, is an aural delight. It has a compelling "mathematical" effect about it, and of course Matt is also a genius in theoretical mathematics, if there some still out there who are unaware of that fact.
Sound quality: this recording is even better than their 2004 effort. The microphones, as placed capture ALL of the harmonics of the 9-foot 2-inch Bosendorfer concert piano used for this recording. Placement of microphones was superior. In addition, Steve Silverstein's drums are resonant, clear, and his cymbals are pleasingly transparent. Good cymbal work like Steve's is sine qua non for a good Jazz recording. John Funkhouser's amazing bass work is also showcased in this recording. This is definitely a team-collaboration which has set a new benchmark, and is a very desirable CD to add to your collection of Jazz.