Friday, December 10, 2010

Marian Petrescu Quartet: Thrivin' (2010)

Make no mistake about it. The jazz polls--both the Downbeat Critics' and Fans' polls--represent about equally some of the pretenders in our midst. More "performance artists" than great musicians or true artists--players who have figured out how to wear the Emperor's New Clothes so proudly as to never give away the secret: that they're basically merely good (in some cases "ordinary") musicians. But they've figured out how to come across as "controversial," "cutting edge," "avant" (as though the term had any meaning more than a half century after the free-est jazz imaginable has been played and well documented).
But face it, there are few left who understand the "Great American Songbook" or the intricacies of melody, harmony and rhythm represented by the music of an Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Charlie Parker, Joe Pass. Many in the public desperately desire a sense of an "exclusive identity" and hence purport to like music that is ostensibly: 1. artful and 2. countercultural, or "different." Art by its very nature is countercultural, because so few in our society are capable of grasping its language--whether metaphoric and ironic or melodic and harmonic.
Both Petrescu and Oberg are easily candidates for top spot in any "jazz poll" past or present. Petrescu is the greater phenom, a combination of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, and Rachmaninoff who has to be heard to be believed. But Oberg isn't far behind (perhaps only Metheny among living guitarists is on his level). But the key to the success of this performance is Oberg's recognition of the brilliance of his playing partner, and his ability to play to that strength as well as be inspired by it.
There's no need to make irresponsible statements (I would take exception to any wild claims about Petrescu's superiority to any of the aforementioned pianists, and I suspect Marian would as well. Marian doesn't swing as hard as Oscar; he doesn't have the "pan-harmonic agility" of Tatum; he nor any other pianist, including Rachmaninoff, possesses the thick fingers and richly expressive and "expressionistic" tone of late Evans--but he's as close to each as anyone has come.) It's reassuring to know there are still giants like these among us. -- Samuel Chell (
01. Cakewalk
02. My Romance
03. Blue In Green
04. Blues Etude
05. On The Trail
06. Yours Is My Heart Alone
07. Indiana
Marian Petrescu - Piano
Andreas Oberg - Guitar
David Flinck - Bass
Mark McLean - Drums
Thrivin Live at Jazz Standard (Dig)
Hotfile / Uploading @ 320K