Marc Copland: Growth Through Collaboration
The late guitarist Emily Remler once said, "There are only two kinds of musiciansthose that sound the same as they did five years ago, and those who don't." And so, Copland is always concerned with evolving his sound and approach. One thing is certain: by comparing some of his earliest recordings to his more recent ones, while his deeply lyrical approach remains intact, there's a degree of abstraction that is gradually creeping into his music. One example is "River's Run" on Time Within Time which, with its more intricate harmonic devices, is ultimately a minor blues, but one unlike any you've ever heard. And his solo reading of Wayne Shorter's classic "Footprints" brings new language to well- established piece. "That's actually an arrangement I did for the Stompin' With Savoy album," explains Copland, "which was for quintet; but there's a lot to explore in it. In the quintet, we played the arrangement, but the blowing was just on a minor blues, more or less in the usual way. This time I used some of the things suggested by the arrangement in the blowing, taking it to a different place.
"It's about the quest for new musical materials," Copland continues. "When there's a C7 or A7 on the page, one wants to play something over it that's different from what one played five years ago. When I was coming up, the people who made a differenceTrane, Miles, Rollins, Bill Evanstried to play differently in their lines. They also tried to do fresh things compositionally, whether with an original or in a standard that was interpreted in a fresh way.
"These cats were all great at breathing new life into standards," concludes Copland. "There's a version of 'Four' that Sonny [Rollins] did where he completely turned the beat of the melody around. It's the only time it's been done to my knowledge, and it's fabulous, the solo becomes a real tour de force. Evans, the same; Miles also, the Plugged Nickel recordings, for example. When cats like that played a tune you knew it would have a twist, but an organic one, not just a gimmick; the twist would suggest a new direction for the blowing. That's a worthy goal, to play something that's newnot new and meaningless, but new and continually developing a direction. That's the reason to get up in the morning and sit at the piano in the first place." class="f-right s-img"> Return to Index...
While Copland is best known for small ensembles, he has played in larger contexts over the years. "I played in larger ensembles with Bob Belden for a long time," says Copland. "The primary determinant for me in approaching a project is the sound in my head and the direction of the music, and has nothing to do with the number of people. One night at an after-hours party somebody took Art Tatum and Oscar Peterson to an apartment with two pianos, and they played duets all night. Someone there said, 'Oh my God, I've never heard so much music!' This in the era of Ellington and his large ensemblesbut just from just two cats! A friend of mine, Mike Patterson, is writing a new piece for piano and string orchestra for me, and we're going to play it at the Manhattan School of Music; I'm looking forward to that!" class="f-right s-img"> Return to Index...
Touring and the Future
In the meantime, Copland spends most of his touring time in Europe. "Perhaps some of it is a function of distribution," says Copland. "The press in Europe is naturally very interested in the music coming out on European labels. They do a lot of coverage, and that helps lead to gigs. There's not always the same interest in those labels on this side of the Atlantic, and that's a shame. When I was with Savoy, we had good press over here and I worked a lot in North America. But it's picked up over here in the last year, and seems to be gaining some steam.
"Drew, Jochen and I are looking forward to our new trio record on Pirouet, coming out in September," Copland continues. "We've got a tour of Europe in the works, and no doubt we'll play New York. The piano trio is kind of a pianist's home base, and there's every reason to keep this trio going."
By bucking the trend and releasing anywhere between two and four releases a year since '01, Marc Copland has proven that, with enough diversity, there's plenty of room out thereand a clear market for all his efforts. And with '05 seeing the release of four new Copland albums, it will be a good year to assess Copland's ongoing growth as a pianist, composer and collaborator; a continued evolution that Copland has been demonstrating in particular force since the turn of the century. class="f-right s-img"> Return to Index...
Visit Marc Copland on the web.
Selected Discography as a leader:
Brand New (Challenge, 2005)
Time Within Time (Hatology, 2005)
Night Call (Nagel Heyer, 2004)
What It Says (Sketch, 2004)
Round and Round (Nagel Heyer, 2003)
And... (Hatology, 2003)
Bookends (Hatology, 2003)
Double Play (Steeplechase, 2002)
Lunar (Hatology, 2002)
Haunted Heart and Other Ballads (Hatology, 2001)
Poetic Motion (Sketch, 2001)
That's For Sure (Challenge, 2001)
Between the Lines (Steeplechase, 2000)
Softly... (Savoy, 1998)
Paradiso (Soul Note, 1997)
Second Look (Savoy, 1996)
What's Going On (Jazzline, 1994)
Songs Without End (Zoom, 1994)
Stompin' With Savoy (Savoy, 1993)
At Night (Sunnyside, 1991)
All Blues at Night (Jazz City, 1991)
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Lead Photo by Juan-Carlos Hernandez