Submitted Without Comment

Lyrics to “Oleo” by Jim Cox, recorded in the mid-70s.

(First A) Oleo, Oleo! Your hot cakes have never had it better, you know. It’s a spread, that you’re fed, when you feel in your head, maybe your fat is saturated

(Second A) In a tube, in a cube, or squeeze it ‘cause now it even comes in a tube. As a rule, cows are cool, but you know I’m a fool, just for the margarine school (Update: On Twitter, Darcy James Argue suggested that this should start with “in a tub,” not “in a tube.”  Makes sense…)

(Improvised bridge) You know mazola is the only kind of corn, ever you’re gonna find in Sonny’s horn. I mean it’s crazy just to think that there are people today, who still will give an argument that butterfat is the only way

(Last A) Don’t accept, second rate, there ain’t been a better lubrication to date. Be profound, hip your town, to the pleasure you’ve found! You’ve got to spread it around.


(from THE REAL VOCAL BOOK, via Heather Sessler)



Friday, Saturday, Sunday: Four shows of MMDG Pepperland in Berkeley, CA. I’ve been in Zellerbach with Mark Morris many times in the past, and it will be a real thrill to bring Pepperland there. I like the Mark Swed review.

Next week, Miranda Cuckson and I reprise our two midcentury sonatas. When we played the George Walker sonata earlier this year, Mr. Walker was still alive. Now we will offer the work in memoriam.



Temporary Kings (2)

It’s been nice to see so much positive notice of the new record!

In the Wall Street Journal, Martin Johnson finally gave me the pull quote I was waiting for, “[Iverson] has gone from one of jazz’s leading popularizers to one of its leading geeks.” [Wordpress doesn’t seem to support emojis but this is where I would usually insert at least three LOLs]

Ethan Iverson and Mark Turner team up on an austere and elegant album that belongs to a growing field known as chamber jazz..

Tonight and tomorrow we are at Crooners. I was honored that Jon Bream, a legend in Minnesota music journalism, wanted to give me a feature in the Star Tribune.

Former Bad Plus pianist still ‘loves playing in the Midwest’ despite rocketing career.

The Crooners gig is a pick by Britt Robson



And the Jazz Standard on Tuesday is a pick by Giovanni Russonello.

gio temporary kings

Tryan Grillo at the New York Jazz Record is a fan!

NYJR Temporary Kings


I had to laugh at this one:

amazon quote.jpg

If you are a practitioner, it is very important not to pay too much attention to the press.  Good notices are naturally better than bad, but in the end all that stuff is just for the larger machine of “arts career,” not for the artist themselves to sit around and think about. Forward motion is the only answer.

There is a built-in mental “safety brake” in the title of Temporary Kings. Among other meanings, it’s a reference to A Dance to the Music of Time by Anthony Powell.

After I tweeted the relevant passage

powell quote

Wesley Stace responded a photo of his first edition. I’m jealous!


The musical character in Dance is Hugh Moreland, who actually dies at the end of  Temporary Kings (the eleventh of twelve books).  Moreland was closely based on  Powell’s friend Constant Lambert.

Last night I played some of Constant Lambert’s Piano Sonata for Mark Turner before the gig at Constellation in Chicago. Mark was cautiously impressed by the harmonies that foreshadow modern jazz to a shocking degree. Good. That little exchange (with a collaborator I value so highly) made me feel like learning the first movement for London Jazz Fest in November is actually a cool move…

Temporary Kings

ECM 2583 is Temporary Kings, a duo with Mark Turner.

ECM link.

With Temporary Kings two of the most distinct voices on today’s jazz scene present their debut on record as a duo: Engaging in inspired dialogue Mark Turner and Ethan Iverson here explore aesthetic common ground in the atmosphere of a modernist chamber music-like setting at the Auditorio Stelio Molo RSI, Lugano. The saxophonist and the pianist had begun their association in the Billy Hart Quartet, where the two players featured sympathetically on two ECM albums by that band. The new duo album now contains six originals by Iverson (among them the nostalgic solo tune “Yesterday’s Bouquet”) and two by Turner (including “Myron’s World,” which has acquired near-classic status among contemporary jazz players). There’s an off-kilter blues (“Unclaimed Freight”) and a strikingly melodic, almost Ravelian opening track dedicated to the town where the album was recorded under ideal sonic conditions (“Lugano”), plus an interpretation of Warne Marsh’s playfully serpentine “Dixie’s Dilemma.”

We are going on tour in America in two swings:


And later in October in Europe. (More on that soon.)

New Yorkers don’t miss the Jazz Standard on Tuesday September 18 it’s going to be GREAT!!! 

Most of my compositional contributions to Temporary Kings can be seen at The Page Has No Sound.


Major Washington Post coverage, thank you Chris Richards!

Link to article, but Chris also tweeted a photo of the print:



Sound Stage Experience — review by James Hale

Jazz Trail – review by Filipe Freitas

Dusted – review by Derek Taylor

Greenman — review by Gary Whitehouse

Rifftides — review by Doug Ramsey

I’m sort of stunned by Dan Ouellette’s profile, “Ethan Iverson: Dynamo at the Crossroads,” in the October DownBeat. Dan talked to Mark Morris, Mark Turner, and Billy Hart for the article.

Link to profile within full mag.

Download PDF:

Ethan Iverson feature – DownBeat

Lo-res photos of the piece:

DanO profile 1Dan O profile 2Dan O profile 3Dan O 4


Very special thanks to Manfred Eicher! And everyone else at ECM. There’s a big team in Munich, but I must especially tip my hat to the New York City ECM all-stars Tina Pelikan and Sarah Humphries. This is partly how it works: Mark and I have a gig: Sarah Humphries thinks ahead to a possible, still unconfirmed record date: Sarah asks local pro Robert Lewis to bring his camera to soundcheck: Now, two years later, we have great photos to go with the CD, press, and tour.

Also, Dan Ouellette works with his editor Bobby Reed at DownBeat. Chris Richards got a go-ahead from his editor at WaPo. There are art directors and other moving parts to create a compelling article at every major publication.

Mariah Wilkins is in charge of the duo’s bookings. Thank you so much Mariah you are AWESOME.

At every tour stop there is a local promoter taking a chance, plus a staff working for love and only a bit of money.

Every person, everywhere, is required for the big picture to work. Sincere thanks to all.

Dates and Places

I was too involved with Wayne Shorter to pay much attention to the Leonard Bernstein centennial. (They were born on the same day.)

I love certain things, of course. A 7th-grade trip to see West Side Story at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre was a signal event in my development. At one point I listened to “Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs” quite a bit; I remember playing that for Mark Turner at my apartment over 20 years ago. Candide has its moments, so does The Age of Anxiety. “Lonely Town” is in my regular repertoire of solo piano pieces, and once I was rehearsal pianist for Joshua Bell when Bell was preparing Serenade (After Plato’s Symposium), which many consider Bernstein’s best concert work.

After all these years I can see the seams, the inexpert counterpoint, the lesser moments of appropriating black culture. But probably Bernstein will forever be at the center of 20th-century American music, and most of the time he does a pretty good job of managing the melting pot.

RIP George Walker. Just this year I played his wonderful early violin sonata with Miranda Cuckson; there is also a DTM interview that was done over email. When preparing for the interview I listened to scads of Walker and decided I loved the tonal music from the 50s best. His later atonal music has obvious excellence, but it might not be as committed as Ralph Shapey or Charles Wuorinen.

Walker was also a virtuoso pianist. The recently released live concert of the Emperor Concerto is shocking, a mighty traversal that ranks with the best. Yet Walker self-produced most of his own studio recordings, and sometimes they are rather raw. When working the violin sonata I learned that the editing of the recording by Walker and his son has a couple of major flaws.

Understanding Walker in totality is difficult. In my view, the best thing to do is acquire Walker’s astounding and masterful book,  Reminiscences of an American Composer and Pianist. It really should be required reading. And, to tie it in with his slightly older peer: There is a hysterical bit about Lenny.

Mlle. [Nadia] Boulanger also invited her Wednesday class to attend a rehearsal of one of the French orchestras that Leonard Bernstein had been engaged to conduct. The rehearsal was scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. At 10:25 Bernstein still had not shown up.

The first work to be played was Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no. 5. When he finally arrived, Bernstein began to conduct and play the solo keyboard part from memory. In the middle of the first movement he couldn’t remember the solo part. He didn’t have the score. (Up the creek without a paddle.) The orchestra decided to proceed with the next work, Gershwin’s “American in Paris.” It was reported later that Bernstein had been shopping for a red leather jacket prior to the rehearsal.

Randy Weston has also passed. I’ve never done a deep dive, but everyone who loves jazz knows that Weston is a crucial figure. I especially admire the 50’s work with Cecil Payne, who was a virtuoso contrasting with the thinker, kind of like Johnny Griffin with Thelonious Monk. African Cookbook has some thrilling Booker Ervin and a rare example of the great Ray Copeland. The late solo albums have gravitas and mystery, in a kind of Andrew Hill-to-Geri Allen spectrum, and the disc with Melba Liston arrangements is a major statement. The autobiography African Rhythms with Willard Jenkins is also highly recommended.

There’s nothing for me to add about Aretha Franklin that hasn’t been said better by others — except maybe to note that The Blues Brothers does not hold up! Damn. I loved that movie as a young teenager, but now all I see are flaws.


Alex Ross, The Sounds of Music

Johanna Keller, Pulitzer Compass Key to Mapping American Music

Mark Stryker, Don Was, Dave McMurray Keep Telling Detroit’s Story

Wesley Morris, Aretha Franklin Had Power. Did We Truly Respect It?