Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Piano Choir - Handscapes 2

Transitioning from one classic Stanley Cowell recording to one of the many projects he helped organize during the mid-seventies. The Piano Choir was a groundbreaking group that featured seven notable New York-based pianists/ keyboardists including Cowell, Webster Lewis, Nat Jones, Sonelius Smith, Harold Mabern, Hugh Lawson, Ron Burton, and Danny Mixon. During the group's short existence, Cowell's co-run label Strata-East released two recordings from the group, Handscapes in 1973 followed-up by Handscapes 2 a couple years later in 1975. The second release, which I'm highlighting today, also features three percussionists including Mtume, Jimmy Hopps, and John Lewis. What made these recordings and this project so groundbreaking and unique was how this group was able to create so many intricate layers to their overall sound by mainly just using acoustic pianos and keyboards. It might be slightly odd at first, to imagine a jazz group only made up of pianos and keys, however many of the tracks are performed in a way that results in overall full and rhythmic sound that isn't lacking depth or sound in anyway. Overall, The Piano Choir was one of Cowell's most ambitious projects that, much like many other Strata-East groups, helped break new ground in jazz during one of it's most creative periods.

The Piano Choir - In What Direction Are You Headed

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