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Lynne Arriale
and her trio with Steve Davis and Jay Anderson
biographies, CDs, concert review, interview

biographies updated on December 11, 2002
 

Biography 
 
At the tender age of three, Lynne Arriale began to play by ear on a plastic toy piano, making up her own melodies. It took her a few months to convince her family to find a piano teacher, but she did. Born in Milwaukee, she initially studied classical music at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music from where she has a master's degree. Arriale was playing classical music into her mid-20s. That is surely were her stunning technique and fluid play come from. In this regard, she is comparable to a great pianist like Oscar Peterson.
 
Lynne switched to jazz because this form of music calls on composition, performance and execution. She said that after playing the tune "you have to come up with something", and that was "magical" to her. She played as a side musician in New York where she moved to in the mid-1980s. Lynne focused on  playing her own music with her own trio since about 1992, developing her own sound as a leader. Her expressive, melodic virtuosity earned her the first prize at the Great American Jazz Piano Competition in 1993. After winning the competition, Lynne Arriale made her recording debut with The Eyes Have It, which includes arrangements of Yesterdays, My Funny Valentine, Witchcraft and My Man's Gone Now. In 1995, Lynne and her trio recorded When You Listen, which contains unique arrangements of How Deep Is the Ocean, Bess You Is My Woman Now and other standards and originals. The Lynne Arriale Trio's subsequent recordings include With Words Unspoken, A Long Road Home, Melody and Live at Montreux. From the beginning, Lynne Arriale was a musician who "lives her music" Therefore, she always sounds true. Critics from Downbeat, JazzTimes, JAZZIZ and press throughout the US, UK and continental Europe acclaim her - as do the audiences who have seen her live. Only the masses have yet to follow.
 
In addition to performing, the trio is actively involved in jazz education, conducting clinics throughout the US, UK and continental Europe. Lynne Arriale and Steve Davis also are faculty members of the Jamey Aebersold Summer Jazz Workshops and the Thelonious Monk Institute in Aspen, Colorado.
 
Drummer Steve Davis, born in Santa Barbara, California, in 1958, has performed with Richie Beirach, Bill Evans, David Liebman, Walt Wiskopf, Pat LaBarbara, John Patitucci and Lynne Arriale. He has been part of the Lynne Arriale Trio for the last eight years, since its inception. Davis' over 70 recordings include three projects as a leader, as well as numerous recordings with such artists as
Walt Weiskopf, Conrad Herwig, Richie Bierach, Bill Evans, Kenny Werner, Tim Hagans, John Pattitucci, Manfredo Fest and Andy Laverne. A highly respected jazz educator, Steve has written six educational drum books and has conducted educational workshops around the world. In addition to performing, Steve has been on the faculty of Jamey Aebersold Jazz Clinics since 1982 and recently served on the faculty of the Berlin Conservatory of Music as professor of jazz studies. He has written six educational drum books and has conducted educational clinics throughout the world. Steve runs his own recording studio and has recorded over 100 jazz CDs, including the trio's A Long Road Home and Melody.
 
Bassist/composer Jay Anderson was born in Ontario, California, in 1955. He began playing acoustic bass at the age of 12.
Since that time, he has won numerous awards for both jazz and classical performance. Jay Anderson is a graduate of California State University at Long Beach. Since moving to New York City in 1982, he has been a regular member of the bands of Michael Brecker, Michael Franks, Red Rodney, Ira Sullivan, Toots Thielemans, Eliane Elias, Bennie Wallace, Steve Khan, Carmen McRae. Since 1992, he has been a regular bassist with Joe Sample. Jay has been featured on over 150 recordings, including work with Paul Bley, Randy Brecker, Bob Berg, Bob Mintzer, Mike Stern, Donald Byrd, Terumasa Hino, Lee Konitz, Warren Bernhardt and many others. He has performed with the big bands of Woody Herman, Kenny Wheeler, Maria Schneider, Mel Lewis, Toshiko Akiyoshi & Lew Tabackin, and WDR Köln, Germany. He has also recorded two albums of his own for the DMP label, Next Exit, and Local Color. Jay's non jazz recordings include albums with Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Michel Legrand, Allen Ginsberg and the Grammy Award winning 1997 Record of the Year, Falling Into You by Celine Dion. Jay is featured on 10 Grammy nominated recordings. Jay is also a recipient of the NEA grant for composition and two Meet the Composer grants and has been featured on ten Grammy Award nominated recordings. He has conducted clinics around the world and is a faculty member at the Manhattan School of Music and SUNY New Paltz, NY.


 
Albums
 
A Long Road Home is a trio album with Lynne Arriale on piano, John Patitucci on bass and Steve Davis on drums. The first tune, Monk's Bye-Ya is too confusing and noisy for me, but Will o' the Wisp, composed by Lynne Arriale herself, shows her stunning introspective side through her ethereal play; a highlight. Gillespie's A Night in Tunisia is fresh, original, as all traditional tunes which the trio plays. Lynne's arrangement of A Night in Tunisia modulates into different keys, slightly changing the melody. The elegant group play is only interrupted by a solo by drummer Steve Davis. Wouldn't It Be Lovely by Lerner and Lowe is again set in contrast to the previous tune and once more shows Lynne's lyrical side. The following tune, Letters From Mike O'Brien, continues with reflective moments, where Lynne's piano playing shines the brightest. The tune, written by Arriale, is dedicated to one of her fans in Saint Louis who has sent her many touching letters. Lynne says that what matters to her is to find her own way, hence the album's title: A Long Road Home. Gillespie's Con Alma, Parker and Rainger's I Wished On The Moon, which Arriale remembers having heard in an interpretation by Billie Holiday, are the next tunes on the CD. The folk-like The Dove, offering additional magical moments, and the title song A Long Road Home, both written by Lynne Arriale, complement the album. It is not Lynne's virtuosity but her capacity to express emotions that is at the center of this album.
 
The CD Melody continues where A Long Road Home ended, with a lyric tune, Turning. The main difference in A Long Road Home is Scott Colley on bass. The Forgotten Ones is inspired by images of abandoned people. Lynne kept the tune "in it's simplest state". She says that "it's like speaking, one phrase following the next inexorably". Beautiful Love is the first composition not written by Arriale herself. It offers some optimistic sparkling. But Beautiful is a marvelous, melodic ballad, with its theme fading and re-emerging. Dance, like Turning, was inspired by Celtic music and lives up to its title. Hush a Bye is a traditional folk song previously recorded in a jazz context, among others, by Stan Getz and Kenny Barron. Lynne sang it in the second grade. "It's a nice breather", she says about it. Her version of Gershwin's It Ain't Necessarily So is full of stops and starts, but still swinging and grooving. Touch Her Soft Lips And Part by the British classical composer William Walton is a tune Arriale first heard on Peter Erskine's Sweet Soul album. He wrote it for Henry V, the scene where "Pistol goes off to war and doesn't know whether he'll see his lover again". It is a tender tune offering another touching moment on Melody. For the final contrast, the Lynne Arriale Trio recorded The Highlands, written by the pianist herself. It is a pedal-point wailer which mixes Celtic elements with jazzy, bluesy and funky ones before the original groove comes back.
 
Lynne Arriale's latest release, Live At Montreux, is, as the previous ones, always emotionally engaging. Steve Davis is still her drummer, but Jay Anderson is now featured on bass. The live experience of the famous jazz festival, a first for Lynne, gives a special flavor and an unmatched intensity to the album. In 1999 in Montreux, the trio started off with Alone Together, a tune played with classical elegance. Monk's tune Evidence followed, rendered with great sensibility. One of the highlights and my favorite tune, With Words Unspoken, was next. It is an ethereal, delicate, fragile and emotional piece written by Lynne Arriale. That's as good as it gets. Seven Steps to Heaven is an entertaining, optimistic and joyful tribute to Victor Feldman's composition. It features Steve Davis with a great and long solo on drums, before the trio returns to classical elegance. Think of One by Monk is another tune offering great "action". Estate is an introspective ballad of reflective sadness and another highlight, like the joyful and funny Calypso, a Mardi Gras bounce composed by Lynne. The Montreux concert ended with An Affair To Remember, a wistful, reflective and poetic ballad which, in its fragility, comes close to With Words Unspoken. The album Live At Montreux is gorgeous, sophisticated, simply sensational.

a

Interview with Lynne Arriale, end of the year 2000
 
Cosmopolis (Louis Gerber): Who are the pianists and trios who have influenced you most and how? Thelonious Monk? Bill Evans?
 
Lynne Arriale: Probably the biggest influence has been Keith Jarret, because of the spontaneity of his melodies and because I never hear him play any clichés. He is constantly spinning out new melodies and is completely in the moment with his improvisations. And, of course, I have been inspired by so many musicians, that it would be hard to list all of them. I am mostly inspired by melody.
 
Cosmopolis: But you play a lot of Monk.
 
Lynne Arriale: I don't play like Monk, but his compositions are great vehicles for a musician. Another strong influence is Herbie Hancock.
 
Cosmopolis: What effect did the appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival have on your career?
 
Lynne Arriale: It was a wonderful experience for us and the first live recording that we have done. There have been many "Live at Montreux" recordings by groups over the years, so there is a legacy associated with the festival. We were thrilled to have a documented performance at the festival.
 
Cosmopolis: At least on your last 3 CDs, you played with 3 different bass players, whereas Steve Davis remained your drummer. Why? Has your trio stabilized now?
 
Lynne Arriale: We have played with several great bassists over the years, and each one brought a particular energy to the group. I am very happy about the chemistry that exists between Jay Anderson, Steve Davis and myself. I feel the most free and inspired in this trio, and I believe we will continue to play together for a very long time. Besides, Anderson was part of my first trio in 1992.
 
Cosmopolis: The trio seems to be the ideal form for you. Have you ever thought about accompanying a singer or playing in a larger group or even in a big band?
 
Lynne Arriale: I have played in different groups (with singers, quartets, quintets, big bands) throughout my musical career, and now I am focusing on the trio as my primary vehicle of expression. I feel it is the configuration that is best for me to develop musically, and to continue to develop a particular "voice" in the music. I like playing the melodies, and there is something really special to me about three voices interweaving and conversing in a musical dialogue.
 
Cosmopolis: What do you intend to explore in the future (works by specific composers)? Will composing become increasingly important for you?
 
Lynne Arriale: I have ideas for many different tunes that I would like to incorporate into our repertoire, as well as original compositions. During the next two months, I have time to explore different music and different textures in the group. I probably will do more composing, but my main interest is in finding melodies that resonate with me, and it doesn't matter to me if I have written them or if someone else has already written them. The melody is the melody, and in a certain way, it transcends ownership (royalties and copyrights notwithstanding!). It is just "out there," and I am grateful to find beautiful melodies (in whatever genre of music they might be found), or interesting melodies that have great thematic material that we can develop in our solos.
 
Cosmopolis: Do you write for other musicians?
 
Lynne Arriale: Not at the present, I barely have enough time to write for the trio, because we are traveling so much, and I need to be at home to really focus on writing and arranging.
 
Cosmopolis: You mostly play traditional tunes. What are the jazz styles you prefer and why?
 
Lynne Arriale: We play tunes in the jazz repertoire, not because they are traditional or non-traditional, but because they are excellent melodies and good vehicles for improvisation. That is why a tune becomes a "standard," because it lends itself to improvisation. We also play tunes that are not in the jazz repertoire at all, such as some of my originals which have a Celtic influence, and others with a world music and folk influence. To me, repertoire is very important, but also how we arrange the tunes, and how we play them that is of great interest to me. Many of the arrangements we play take traditional tunes in a different direction than what is usually played. So many factors can create a completely new and fresh rendition of a tune: the key, the tempo, the "groove," the level of interaction or non-interaction of the group, the simplicity or the complexity of how we are playing. I try to approach a standard as if I have never heard it before and have no preconceived ideas of how it should go; so that I can, hopefully, "discover" the tune again, and find a particular way to play it that creates a new feeling for me. So it never feels like we are just playing some standards. I spend a long time finding what I feel is the repertoire that will be inspirational to the group and allow us to find something new each time we perform a tune. I am constantly scrutinizing our repertoire and the arrangements, to see how one fits with the next in our program, in order to create a particular experience for the listener. We must be inspired by the repertoire, because if we are not inspired by the tunes we choose, then how can we possibly hope to reach our audience?
 
Cosmopolis: Tell me about the concept of your arrangement and performance of Monk's Bye-Ya.
 
Lynne Arriale: In Bye-Ya, there is a give and take to the time which is very obvious and gives it kind of a "drunken" feeling, yet very humorous. If you follow the melody of my solo, it is melodic, but it is articulated in a very humorous, "tongue in cheek" (as we say here) way. That is the whole point of the rendition. We could have played it completely straight, but we accentuated the humorous aspect of the piece and completely took it into that quirky, funky, lopsided feeling.  There are other stylistically different things, such as my left hand being way down in the bass range, on purpose, to "get in his space". I mentioned to John that  he didn't need to "hold the fort down" but could play anywhere, and anything. I heard it as a lot of "plink, plink" kind of sounds in all registers of the instruments, like a pointilistic painting.
 
Cosmopolis: Have your preferences changed over the years?
 
Lynne Arriale: I am sure that they have, but I don't really remember what I used to like and dislike; I am really only aware of how music and repertoire feels to me right now.

Sheet Music Plus Jazz


Lynne Arriale. Lynne Arriale at Amazon.com


Get Lynne Arriale's 2011-album Convergence from Amazon.com or Amazon.de.

Steve Davis.
 
CDs by the Lynne Arriale Trio
 

Come Together
, September 2004. An honest, unpretentious album with a partly impressionist feeling, only surpassed by Live At Montreux (check below), which best captures her qualities. Get the CD Come Together from Amazon.de or Amazon.com.
 

The Eyes Have It, 1994, Dmp.
 

When You Listen
, 1995, Dmp..
 

With Words Unspoken
, 1996, Dmp.
 

A Long Road Home
, 1997, Tcb. Get the album from:
- Amazon.com,
- Amazon.co.uk,
- Amazon.de.
 

Melody
, Tcb, 1999. Get the album from:
- Amazon.com,
- Amazon.co.uk,
- Amazon.de,
- Amazon.fr.
 

Live At Montreux
, Tcb, May 2000. Her best album. It captures the magic of one of her best live performances. Get the album from:
- Amazon.com,
- Amazon.co.uk,
- Amazon.de,
- Amazon.fr.
 

Added on July 2, 2002: Lynne Arriale Trio: Inspiration. TCB, 2002. Get the album from:
- Amazon.de
- Amazon.fr
- Amazon.co.uk
- Amazon.com
 

Lynne Arriale Trio: Arise. Motéma Music, 2003. Get the CD from
- Amazon.com
- Amazon.co.uk 
- Amazon.fr.


 
Added in April 2003: Check also our reviews of Arriale's albums Arise and Inspiration.
 
Concert review: Concert at the baroque hall of the Bären in Häggenschwil, Switzerland, November 17, 2000
 
On November 17, The Lynne Arriale Trio featuring Lynne on piano, Steve Davis on drums and Jay Anderson on bass played in the baroque hall at the Bären in Häggenschwil (built in 1762). It was the first concert in the old and completely paneled hall. According to Peter Scherrer, the organizer, other acoustic trios will perform there every three to six months. The almost cubic and wooden soundbox of the Bären offers sensational acoustics [January 2005: in a second concert I sat upstairs and the acoustics were average; the magic of the first concert, sitting in front of the musicians, carried me away]. The intimate audience of some 150 people was the ideal showcase for Lynne's trio.
 
The trio began the concert with a free abstraction of the tune The Song is You, playing two choruses of very open displaced time, before bringing the tune into a a fast swing. The delicate Lynne Arriale played on the piano with closed eyes. She literally spoke to the music, the piano and to herself, especially in the poetic solo part. It was a tune of classical elegance. The soft and lyric ballad Feeling Good by Newley and Bricusse came next. The interplay between the musicians was harmonious. The trio is a symbiosis with Lynne as their shining star. Jay Anderson on bass is the kit who perfectly connects drums and piano. Anderson was a discrete but essential element. Steve Davis often acted as counterpart to the piano. Another ballad followed with Burt Bacharach's A House Not A Home. Arriale's stylistic confidence was breath-taking, the delicate end of the song masterful.
 
Alone Together, a tune from Live At Montreux, was an energetic and joyful contrast to the lyric tunes played before. Another emotional and rhythmic world opened up. The trio did not make cheap gestures, the music was not just fast and loud, it also made sense. In Alone Together, bassist Jay Anderson had the opportunity to display his great melodic virtuosity and to show why he is such a vital voice in the trio. Steve Davis and Lynne Arriale shone in small alternating solos on drums and piano before the trio found their way back to the melody.
 
Estate, written by Martino and Brighetti and from Live in Montreux, was a calming ballad, reflective and warm. How Lynne tuned down the sound and finally eclipsed it was great art. Gillespie's A Night In Tunisia was next. The torrid play and the blind coordination between piano and drums were stunning. The trio continued its contrasting program with William Walton's Touch Her Soft Lips and Part. A sad tune with Lynne's delicate piano playing as the highlight. The last song before the break was a composition by Lynne from her latest release: The joyful Calypso was played with humor, precision, warmth and lightness.
 
The second part started off with Monk's Bemsha Swing. The beginning was full of improvised elements. The humor also got its fair share. The Nearness of You followed in complete contrast. Harmony and elegance triumphed in this ballad. Steve Davis only used the brushes. The trio sent out warm waves. Lynne Arriale produced bright, bell-like scales. Beautiful Love followed. Like on the CD Melody, the melody triumphed in this tune. Davis delicately accompanied Lynne's flights on piano with his brushes. Towards the end, the rhythm became almost orgiastic, before he faded out slowly.
 
Yesterday's, a composition by Kern that Lynne recorded on her debut album The Eyes Have It, was played in an arrangement by Steve Davis. It was lively and flamboyant. Lynne showed off her exhilarating virtuosity. It included a spectacular and at the same time sensitive drum solo. In the end, she lead the trio back to the melody.
 
After the great fun experience came a touching, dreamy and transcendent Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight by James Taylor. Another highlight of the evening. Gershwin's It Ain't Necessarily So, recorded on Melody, followed. The joy and fun were back. Abdullah Ibrahim's Mountain of The Night was the encore. A simple but delicious rhythm lead to trance-like ethereal moments on piano. Steve Davis accompanied Lynne in a subtle way, with his bare hands on drums.
 
It was an unforgettable, chamber music-like evening in the Swiss province. It needed the omnipresent but unobtrusive playing by Jay Anderson on bass to hold the trio together. Steve Davis with his ability to dance on drums and paint colors complemented the trio, but sometimes also played in sharp contrast to them. Despite his escapades, he held the swing going. Lynne Arriale, with her capacity to bring emotion, intellect and intuition together, is the outstanding but still underrated pianist of the moment. Hopefully, she will come back to the Bären one day. It is the ideal setting for her acoustic trio. - Lynne Arriale at Amazon.com -

Sheet Music Plus Jazz

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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.