Lynne Arriale’s clever improvisation forms the basis for her trio’s sound.
Thursday, November 4, 2004
According to Thomas Edison, the quintessential American inventor, “Genius is one percent inspiration and 99-percent perspiration.”
Change the numbers a little bit and the formula works just as well as a description of the quintessential American art form of jazz. Since many jazz musicians use spiritual or metaphysical language to describe the ineffable communication that takes place during a performance, it’s often assumed that they are making up much of what they play while on the bandstand. But the reality is that jazz is a craft that evolves through countless hours of practice, rehearsal and study.
Pianist Lynne Arriale, a supremely lyrical improviser who has cultivated an exquisite trio approach, is one musician who doesn’t underplay the kind of work that goes into developing a personal voice. Featured at last September’s Monterey Jazz Festival during an evening of sets in the piano trio-friendly Club House, Arriale returns to the Peninsula on Tuesday for a concert at the Jazz & Blues Company.
Arriale first gained national attention in 1993 when she won the Great American Jazz Competition in Jacksonville, Fla., a victory that led to her promising debut album, The Eyes Have It. She followed up with a series of gorgeous albums on the Swiss label, TCB, and continued her impressive run of recordings with the independent label, Motema. Last August, she celebrated the 10th anniversary of her superlative trio, featuring bassist Jay Anderson and highly musical drummer Steve Davis, with the release of Come Together.
Part of what sets Arriale apart is her gift for melodic invention. Her breathtaking original pieces, such as “Turning” and “Dance” from her 1999 album Melody, are perfect vehicles for her flowing style, which avoids blues riffs and bop-based licks. Most remarkable is the way that her tunes combine the simplicity and directness of folk music with the harmonic complexity of jazz.
“I take a lot of time developing the arrangements, so there’s always a twist,” Arriale says. “There’s no formula, you don’t know what the twist is going to be until the tune is finished. It takes playing the tune over and over again, fooling around with different things, editing, and following an interesting idea.”
Lynne Arriale performs Fri 7:30pm at Jazz & Blues Company, San Carlos and 5th, Carmel. $45. 624-6432.