Pyramid – What Time Does the Balloon Go Up?
What’s a guy to do when he’s waiting for his band mates to show up at an outdoor stage located next to a hot air balloon ride and everyone keeps asking, “What time does the balloon go up?” He writes an up-beat, swinging jazz composition that characterizes the anticipation of waiting to go on stage.
The album which is also entitled, What Time Does the Balloon Go Up?, celebrates the Pyramid quartet‘s thirty years of performing together by presenting tunes written by Larry Crawford, woodwind specialist; Bob Gronowski, bassist; and Hugh Parsons, keyboardist, all accompanied by drummer Martin Lord. From luscious ballads, bebop, Latin jazz, to easy swing and R&B, the album reflects the extensive experience and influences that each band member has contributed throughout the years.
Since 1979, Pyramid has been playing throughout the Okanagan Valley in southern British Columbia. As they were continually occupied with live performance and teaching endeavors, the band had seldom considered taking the time to go into a studio and record some of their music. “The hesitation to record did not come about due to a lack of material”, states Bob Gronowski, group bassist, “as group members Hugh Parsons and Larry Crawford have been composing for many years and audiences have always truly enjoyed listening to their original material.” Several of the compositions on the album were written with their own kids in mind such as Mouse for Crawford's daughter and Jennifer's Theme and Waltz for a Little Friend for Parsons’ two children. Cautious Dream was composed by Parsons specifically for Crawford to play on alto sax and is a beautiful ballad in the style of Old Folks. There is a running theme throughout the album that is uplifting with selections like the Island Breeze (Crawford) and the quirky but delightful Crazy Harry's Scottish Dream (Parsons).
Crawford’s smooth sax sound evokes the style of Zoot Sims and Al Cohn while his flute playing that of Hubert Laws. Crawford’s soprano styling is that of fellow Canadian Campbell Ryga, and Crawford’s prolific composing encompass a world of experience, well grounded in mainstream jazz.
On keyboard, Parsons’ playing reminds one of Bill Evans and, at times Bob James with his creative compositions being reminiscent of such luminaries as Dave Brubeck. Parsons has written for many types of musical genres which would include small ensembles all the way up to settings for full-scale symphonies orchestras.
Gronowski's fender bass playing was influenced by Jamie Jamieson of the Motown era and Scott Lafaro, jazz bassist with Bill Evans. Shuffleuffagus, Gronowski's original contribution to the album, is a tribute to his home town - Motown.
Drummer/percussionist Martin Lord's influences were Roy Burns and Peter Erskine, among others. Lord provides great nuance and texture for the album and supports the other band members with finesse.