Exposé Online banner

Jamie Saft — Solo a Genova
(RareNoise RNR088, 2018, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2018-04-21

Solo a Genova Cover art

One thing you can count on from Jamie Saft is that each new recording has a good chance of sounding unlike what you’ve heard him do before. I’ve heard him in a variety of settings, from noisy organ trio (Spanish Donkey), noisy free improv (Slobber Pup), more conventional free jazz (if there is such a thing), dub-influenced latin jazz (New Zion), piano trio (with Steve Swallow and Bobby Previte), and even lap steel guitar. This live recording is the first time I’ve heard him doing an entire set of solo piano, and it is a beautiful outing that refuses to be constrained to the jazz idiom. Much of his playing reminds me of Johnny Costa, the nimble pianist who made Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood something more than a typical children’s show. I hope I’m not turning any readers off by that comparison — if anything, Saft’s playing is more harmonically varied than your average Costa, but the way he uses scalar and arpeggiated flourishes is similar. Two original tunes are included in the set (“Gates” and “The New Standard / Pinkus”) along with interpretations surprising (ZZ Top, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Charles Ives), more expected (John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Bill Evans), and in between (Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder). No matter the source, all are masterfully arranged, whether moody and meditative or energetic and hyperactive. There are occasional nods to the blues on pieces where it’s appropriate, and when he ventures into alternative harmonizations of a melody, you won’t hear a lot of typical jazz voicings. A few of the tracks feature dextrous runs up and down the keyboard, but his delivery is almost relaxed even at what seems like it must be the limits of human finger movement. His rendition of “Sharp Dressed Man” includes reaching inside the piano to stroke the strings, and must have greatly surprised and amused the audience when (or if) they realized what song he was playing. He closes the album with a beautiful rendition of Dylan’s “Restless Farewell,” and surely his poignant rendition of the folk-song like tune left the audience both satisfied and wishing there could be a little more.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Jamie Saft

More info
http://jamiesaft.bandcamp.com/album/solo-a-genova

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Yūgen - Uova Fatali: Yugen Plays Leddi – Yūgen is an Italian based chamber rock ensemble (nine members + numerous guests for this recording) led by guitarist Francesco Zago. Another member of the group is multi-instrumentalist Tommaso...  (2010) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues