Spring is Sprung

Friday night in Buffalo, I play duo with Tom Harrell at the Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo, New York. The promoter, the estimable Bruce Eaton, asked me some questions:

Bruce Eaton: It was many years and millions of miles ago for you but one of the most landmark concerts in the Art of Jazz Series was The Bad Plus at the Albright-Knox in 2004 – which if I recall correctly was the first date on the band’s first major tour or darn close to it. You’ve had pretty unique career arc since then which many jazz fans are familiar with – making your initial mark as a co-leader in a successful group with a very distinct sound and then moving on to focus on working with some of the great living masters like Billy Hart, Ron Carter, and Tootie Heath. That’s sort of the opposite of the path many musicians follow.  After doing your “own thing” for so long, what really struck you when you jumped into working with the older masters of the art of jazz?

Ethan Iverson:  Thanks Bruce! I remember that Albright-Knox gig like it was yesterday!

Most of the artists I admire have one foot in the past as well as one in the future. In fact, a lot of what seemed “new” in the Bad Plus was just fresh ways of doing old things, for I first got into jazz through Scott Joplin and boogie-woogie and I still love the whole continuum. Having planted the flag, so to speak, of modernity — if not even punk rock — with the Bad Plus,  I then wanted to strike a balance with more traditional knowledge. The first time I played with Billy Hart, I knew instantly that he had what I needed to grow, and I’ve kept trying to learn from him ever since. Billy recommended Tootie, and of course Ron has always been my favorite bassist. When working with people like Billy, Tootie, and Ron, I learn something that no amount of private listening and solo practice can give me.

BE:  Common Practice [ECM / 2019. Recorded live at the Village Vanguard with Tom Harrell] was certainly one of the stellar pre-pandemic releases. It resonated with me and many other listeners for the depth of emotion and beauty that you pulled out of songs that we’ve all heard many times. I had to hit the “repeat” button on my cd player three or four times before I could get past Tom’s opening to “The Man I Love”. What a beautiful opener! What is it about Tom’s playing that makes it so special?

EI:  Tom feels very deeply, yet he lets only small amount of that feeling rise to the obvious surface. That very act of restraint is compelling. It’s very vulnerable. I have seen people cry when Tom Harrell plays a ballad.

BE: For those not familiar with the term, how do you define “common practice”?

EI:  It’s the basic stuff of an artistic discipline. In this case, we are playing standards and blues at the Village Vanguard, something which has been happening at the Vanguard almost nightly for — what — 60 years? 70? In the end everyone on the album, including bassist Ben Street and drummer Eric McPherson, knows some of the same repertoire and even some of the same records. Everyone plays an a strikingly individualistic fashion, but the meeting point is “common practice.”

BE: There was once a fairly significant number of established leaders whose bands served as de facto apprenticeships for younger musicians. Tom Harrell played for long periods with Horace Silver and Phil Woods among others. People might immediately think of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and the like but looking back on the older artists I booked in the 1990s and even more recently, their ensembles almost universally featured younger musicians, many who are now wise veterans themselves. Has jazz lost something valuable with those apprenticeships dwindling or is that firsthand knowledge and perspective being passed along in different ways today?

EI:  The internet has created many problems but it has also opened doors. It is much easier to learn about the tradition than before. If you go to YouTube, middleweight yet truly wonderful artists like Hank Mobley or Hampton Hawes aren’t forgotten, they have millions of listeners!  Some of the younger players (Sullivan Fortner and Nicole Glover come to mind) seem to know a sizable breadth of the history in a way that just wasn’t true a few decades ago. So that’s all to the good.

I didn’t come up in the jazz apprentice system myself, I frankly wasn’t good enough to be hired by a Betty Carter or a Jackie McLean when I arrived in New York in 1991. However, I did work extensively with choreographer Mark Morris, a true giant in his field, and then when I met Billy Hart I carried his bag whenever he let me. These days I’ve concluded that masters are underrated: If you are lucky enough to sit next to a master, they put it all in perspective.

BE: I know that you and Tom have rehearsed together specifically for this concert. Without revealing any songs, what can listeners expect?

EI:  Nobody has been gigging that much yet, but Tom invited me to his house last week and his chops were up. Tom has been writing a ton of music. In fact, I just handed in liner notes to his next record, Oak Tree, a great quartet date of all-original music for High Note with Luis Perdomo, Ugonna Okegwo, and Adam Cruz. For the duo concert, we will play standards — probably some of those that are on Common Practice — and maybe a couple of Tom’s latest pieces.

BE: Your recently released album for Blue Note has been well-received and seems to mark the beginning of a new phase for you. What projects lie ahead?

EI: It was a pleasure to write music for Larry Grenadier and Jack DeJohnette, and, yes, the reviews have been very kind. I will not tour with Larry and Jack, but Larry and Nasheet Waits are doing a few gigs with me in the future. I’ve also been enjoying playing sets with local rhythm sections. This is also the tradition: the first time I saw Kenny Barron and Cedar Walton they were with locals.

What is not so visible yet in the world on record is larger formal composition. But I’ve been doing quite a lot of long form writing, and expect to producing symphonies for jazz ensemble before too long. I’m serious!

BE: We all hope that somewhere in the future you have time to write the book that followers of your blog [the multiple award-winning Do The Math] have been waiting for. In the meantime, we’re eagerly awaiting your upcoming concert at Kleinhans. Thank you, Ethan.

EI: Thanks Bruce, and looking forward to seeing you soon!


At last Pepperland is returning to some kind of regular touring schedule. The score I created for the Mark Morris Dance Group a few years ago is one of the most successful things I’ve ever done. In the interview above, I mention formal composition, and that stage of my development really began in earnest with Pepperland. Due to the issue of grand rights, there is no plans to record the score, although eventually maybe we will document a few movements, although the music almost requires the choreography. It’s impossible to explain, really, you’ve got to see it to believe it.

In the next months Pepperland will be in Charleston, Urbana, Philadelphia, and Orlando. In Urbana I will also be in the pit for a MMDG rep show that will include Lou Harrison’s Grand Duo, a piece I played something like 120 times on the road with Morris around the turn of the century. Honestly, I am so thrilled to play Grand Duo again, and of course it is also one of the greatest dances.


I had such a fabulous time playing music from Every Note is True with the local rhythm sections of Matt Ulery and Jon Deitemyer (Chicago) and Anthony Cox and Kevin Washington (Minneapolis). If any promoters around the country are reading this: I am available! Bring me to your town and set me up with the nearest A-team! It’s so much fun and also a great way to build community, for there are excellent musicians everywhere.

At Mezzrow in NYC on April 15 and 16, I’ll be joined by Peter Washington and Al Foster. Yikes. In this case there’s no need to bring in my bag of music, we will play tunes, more in the style of the Common Practice album with Harrell.


Brad Linde is doing a lot for jazz and the jazz repertoire in the D.C. area. In May I am thrilled that Brad is bringing back Bud Powell in the 21st Century, the big band suite commissioned by Umbria Jazz Festival. (I’ll be playing piano, of course, full personnel to follow soon.)

Saturday, May 14: Sharp Nine Gallery in Durham, NC with the Brad Linde Expanded Ensemble
Monday, May 16: Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington DC with the Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra 


A few pics from the NEA Jazz Masters at SFJAZZ:

The masters: Billy Hart, Stanley Clarke, Donald Harrison

Tenor madness: David Sanchez, Chris Potter, Mark Turner

SFJAZZ Collective secret weapons: Brandon Ross and Gretchen Parlato

Bass power: Matt Brewer and Joe Martin

The event was very moving, and one of the highlights was definitely Billy Hart’s short speech. I asked Billy for a copy:

John Coltrane said that he wanted his music to be a force for good.

Coltrane’s comment has inspired my own path of purpose. 

This path started many years ago in Washington, D.C., before sending me on to play with so many friends, heroes, mentors, and students. 

Getting this recognition tonight from my government apparently validates this path — this path of purpose. 

Thanks to the National Endowment of the Arts, SFJazz, and everyone else who has helped me all these years. 

I am happy to have walked this path!

Numbers

Tonight Billy Hart joins other NEA Jazz Masters at SFJAZZ for the official induction. The class of 2022 also includes Stanley Clarke, Donald Harrison, and Cassandra Wilson. Wilson will not be attending the concert, but Clarke and Harrison are performing along with the SFJAZZ Collective and master of ceremonies Dianne Reeves. The festivities will be both in-person and live-streamed; Billy’s quartet with Mark Turner, Joe Martin, and myself will play Jabali’s “Duchess.”

Richard Scheinin talked to Billy for two hours and printed the whole thing. Great!

I myself get a few quotes in The Washington Post profile by Michael J. West.

It’s nice to be back at SFJAZZ. I was a regular there with Bad Plus but it’s been at least five years now since I set foot in that superb concert hall. Yesterday morning I read the dramatic announcement: Randall Kline is stepping down next year. 

Billy and I asked Randall why the hell he was doing such a thing. His smart answer was comprised of round numbers: The building was 10 years old, the Collective was 10 years old, and he’s turning 70.

Billy Hart and Randall Kline


Last week I heard more great NYC music.

Gerald Clayton was in residence at the Village Vanguard with Joe Sanders and Justin Brown.

Orrin Evans had a birthday gig with Vicente Archer and Mark Whitfield, Jr. 

These two power trios (Evans also featured guests including fine saxophonist Caleb Curtis) both confirmed the way the hippest, most ultra-modern rhythm sections were evolving in terms of displacing the beat. For the Clayton set it was Bud Powell’s “Celia,” for Evans it was Geri Allen’s “Feed the Fire,” but in both cases the thicket of polyrhythmic activity thrown up by the bass and drums was formidable indeed. 

The Scene Changes

George Coleman turned 87 on Tuesday; last night at the Vanguard he tore through rhythm changes at the Max Roach tempo. The band was Peter Bernstein’s fine group with Peter Washington and Joe Farnsworth. Mr. Coleman is with Bernstein one more night this week, tonight.


Charles McPherson is on tour! Starting tonight he’s at Dizzy’s in NYC. Recently he published valuable memories of Barry Harris (as told to Michael West) in JazzTimes.


More thoughts about the late Ron Miles soon. For now, I admire this post by Sam Newsome.


I was pleased to contribute to The Threepenny Review symposium on Jazz, Blues, and Soul. (Other contributors, found in the hard copy, include Greil Marcus, Geoff Dyer and Akira Tana.) My comment can perhaps be taken lightly — but also I am deadly serious.


Contemporary Music Review, Volume 40, Issue 2-3 is “Playing (with) Babbitt in the 21st Century.” My essay is on the expected topic, “Babbitt Jazzed: The Bad Plus’s Jazz Trio Arrangement of Semi-Simple Variations.” A lot of other interesting names are present in the table of contents! It’s an honor to be included in this celebratory publication.


“Floris Nico Bunink, Restless Bopper Advised by Bill Evans” by Werner Herbers.

!?

Evans offers a long set of instructions on how to get into sight-reading and classical repertoire. This is quite the find.


Last week I went out to hear the cats, and apparently I have become that dubious person who barges into the dressing room after the set to take photos of the band for their social media.

Melissa Aldana w. Sullivan Fortner, Kush Abadey, Pablo Menares (not pictured, Lage Lund)

Tyshawn Sorey/Aaron Diehl (not pictured, Russell Hall and Greg Osby)

Aldana’s set was thoughtful and elliptical, tunes drawn from the new record, she’s a major player. Abadey might be my new fav drummer.

Less expected were the totally deconstructed standards from Tyshawn and company. The ringer is Aaron, who plays romantic piano gestures (double octaves, blazing chromatic thirds) in the context of high modernism. A fresh approach! Great to hear Osby too, a true master.


The context reminded me a bit of hearing Greg Osby with Paul Motian and Masabumi Kikuchi. Some of the best photos of Motian and Kikuchi were taken by their friend, John Rogers, who has a new book out, Old and New Dreams.


Speaking of Aaron Diehl: on November 17, 2020, I live-tweeted his solo piano concert at the 92nd St. Y. This was one of the very best streams I watched during the pandemic.

I’d love to have a recording of Aaron playing this set. For now, here’s the tweet thread as a more permanent archive:

Live tweeting Aaron Diehl —All the works tonight at the 92nd Y are by Afro-American composers. AD will play some pieces exactly “as is,” others will played as jazz. AD is one of the few pianists (ever, in all piano history) to have the capabilities to pull this off.

First suite SEVEN TRACERIES is by William Grant Still, the dean of black composers in America. AD plays them straight. These preludes are modest and attractive, moderately contemporary harmonic language, successful piano writing, a good opener

After the Still is done (played perfectly), AD dances on the bench for a second, getting ready to groove

Roland Hanna, CENTURY RAG. This is a true anomaly, a fully notated rag written by great modern jazz pianist. AD plays with a straight-eighth, just like Hanna’s record. Enjoyable piece — amusing chromatic harmonies that Joplin would have never used — makes me think of Art Deco.

WHOA! AD lets the dogs out and does some fierce blowing on the Hanna! Yeah baby

Two stride pieces. First a tone poem by Willie the Lion Smith, “Fading Star.”

It’s interesting to hear a work by the Lion on a concert grand played by a virtuoso pianist. This almost never happens, the instruments and performers are usually rougher around the edges. Brings out something else in the Lion’s music…

I’m speechless at the performance of James P. Johnson’s “Keep Off the Grass.” Come ON! I wish James P. could have heard that.

AD plays it his own way. I’ve worked on “Keep Off the Grass” myself and know every note — AD does his own thing. The left is just a hair faster than the right. So swinging

Now for a new piece by Wynton Guess, “J-Walking,” commissioned by the ACO. Guess writes: “I have known Aaron since I was a child and I was always amazed at his abilities, especially being one of the only people I knew at the time that could play ragtime and stride piano like my hero Marcus “The J Master” Roberts. The piece is based around this relationship we both shared to the stride piano greats like James P. Johnson and Jaki Byard.”

“J-Walking” begins with an amusing left hand solo like walking bass, then an eclectic mix of modernism and stride. I’ve told Aaron he should play more modernist and atonal music 😂, glad to hear him play the Guess, it’s a good vibe (Update, 2022 — hear him with Tyshawn improvising like Masabumi Kikuchi meets Ahmad Jamal holy shit)

Next up, Ellington’s NEW WORLD A COMIN.’ Fun fact: the “concerto” version of NEW WORLD A COMIN’ was premiered by Don Shirley (GREEN BOOK).

Shirley had chops but his jazz feel wasn’t the deepest. AD can get in there in a different kind of way. Ellington’s large-scale works require a penetrating interpreter for complete success. This piece is perfect for AD

To close, JUBA DANCE by R. Nathaniel Dett! This piece used to be very popular, it did a lot to put a basic kind of “black” aesthetic in American homes. Percy Grainger recorded it. Of course AD plays it perfectly! Bravo! Great concert!

Schubert Fantasy (Lupu/Perahia) and Brahms F minor Quintet (Rubinstein/Guarneri)

Tonight I’ll be premiering my Piano Sonata at Jordan Hall in between two established masterpieces:

Alessio Bax and Evren Ozel will play the Fantasy in F Minor for Piano Four-Hands, D. 940 by Franz Schubert.

Alessio Bax, Ayano Ninomiya, Lucy Chapman, Kim Kashkashian, and Peter Stumpf will play the Piano Quintet in F Minor, op. 34 by Johannes Brahms.

It’s always a good idea to acquaint oneself with the repertoire before attending a serious concert of European Classical Music. (My wife, Sarah Deming, calls it “practicing” when cueing up the relevant tracks before going to the opera or the symphony.) In this case I know these two pieces; I’ve even read through them. But in a sense, one can never hear works of this caliber too often. Last night I listened to famous records of both.


Schubert Fantasy

The four-hand piano piece is intimate and even domestic. The technical demands are usually not too taxing, for at the time of composition it would have been meant to be played by whoever was a skilled-enough sight-reader after a dinner party. Schubert might be surprised to know a work like this is programmed today for large audiences listening with undivided attention.

Schubert was one of the most melodic of composers, seemingly taking dictation from the heavens. However, Schubert was also fiercely, even obsessively, repetitive and rhythmic, arguably a true proto-minimalist. In the Fantasy, the piano’s percussive and monochromatic qualities are just as important as the glorious themes.

The five sections form an arch. The Fantasy is quite a rare bird structurally, with the inner movements in F-sharp minor operating as a wildly dissonant upper neighbor note to the home key of F minor.

Allegro molto moderato (F minor). Quintessential Schubert motion, with much light and shade between minor and major tonalities. Perfect music, except for an elusive air of disquiet. The transitions between keys are quite jarring, none more than the abrupt shift into

Largo (F sharp minor). Dotted rhythms in the French Overture style (not a genre usually associated with Schubert). The trills are perfectly executed by Murray Perahia and Radu Lupu. This CBS 1985 recording is famous, and might be the best-selling LP of two-piano music.

Allegro vivace. The same key gets a further work out in a minuet with rustic overtones. It’s all quite a minor-key feeling, which makes the last bars of F-sharp major all the more heartbreaking.

Con delicatezza (D major). The trio of the minuet has a bit of waltz feel and wanders all over the map harmonically. We hear the original minuet again, and of course the heartbreaking F-sharp major bars destroy us further by modulating back to

Final (Tempo primo) (F minor). The first few stanzas are presented exactly like the original, before breaking unexpectedly into a fugal texture. (Again, not a form associated with Schubert.) A march-like theme from before is the counter-subject; to their credit, Perahia and Lupu still keep the sonority graceful and light, at least long as they can, before the texture thickens to near-Busoni levels of intensity. At the very end Schubert writes not one but two proto-Stravinskyian progressions that are starkly dissonant and brutal by the standard of the day.

One of Schubert’s greatest pianistic inventions.


Brahms Quintet

Artur Rubinstein was nearing the end of his career. There wasn’t much of his solo repertoire or concerto repertoire that he hadn’t already recorded twice or thrice, so the legend gracefully agreed to track several pieces with the young Guarneri Quartet (Arnold Steinhardt and John Dalley, violins, Michael Tree, viola and and David Soyer, cello.) The original RCA issue of the Brahms quintet must be one of the best-selling LPs of chamber music.

Much of Brahms for smaller forces is justifiably called “symphonic.” Perhaps there’s nothing more obviously “symphonic” in the whole of chamber music repertoire than the first movement of op. 34. Just awesome. A mighty statement. A reason to be.

Allegro non troppo (F minor). Unlike Schubert, melodies were not so easy for Brahms. His model was Beethoven: both “B’s” frequently start in an abstract place and work out their motivic tunes as they go. A vast sonata form like the opening allegro of op. 34 hardly gives up its secrets the first time through. (Compare with Schumann’s famous Piano Quintet, the work that birthed the whole genre: Schumann’s structure is clear as day.) On this 1966 performance the “walking tempo” rhythm of the pianist and the strings seem perfect, they all simply speak the language clearly. A charismatic recording.

Andante, un poco adagio (A-flat major). Brahms investigated triple meter in ways European composers hadn’t bothered with since the days of Monteverdi. The opening flexible yet granitic tune of the Andante could be from Beethoven — except Beethoven wouldn’t have known how to phrase in a big six. The movement slowly twists and turns; this kind of spacious expanse may prefigure Bruckner and Mahler. While the piano is certainly the commander of the vessel, each string player also a gets a lyrical say.

Scherzo: Allegro – Trio. The main C minor theme is quite syncopated and even moves between threes and twos, fairly bold conceits considering the time and place of composition. The movement is also a shade exotic in harmonic flavor, a hint of “Hungarian Gypsy” perhaps. A dark and stormy night. The cello digs in on the lowest note, C, in both arco and pizzicato.

Finale: Poco sostenuto – Allegro non troppo (F minor). The introduction is famous, a set of wandering and nearly discordant pitches. When the tempo begins, a hunt and peck tune floats over pulsating repeating notes that suggest the beating hooves of a horse. A strong start — but then the themes chase each other around a bit. It’s all enjoyable, but a flashy finale was seldom Brahms’s strong suit. Until you know the piece well, the movement seems like it has two or three endings. Like Schubert above, Brahms doubles down on counterpoint and a kind of quasi-fugal texture to bring things to a head. It works well enough, and the last bars offer a genuine syncopated surprise.

Piano Sonata in Boston + gigs in Chicago and Minneapolis

Monday, March 7 sees the premiere of my first Piano Sonata at Jordan Hall as part of Laurence Lesser’s “First Monday” series. The work is in three movements, Allegro Moderato, Andante, and Rondo. Free admission.

After performing “Songs of the Earth” with Mark Padmore in San Francisco on March 16, I will stay on the road and play some of the repertoire from Every Note is True with great local rhythm sections in Chicago and Minneapolis.

March 18, Constellation in Chicago, with Matt Ulery and Jon Deitemyer.

March 19, Dakota in Minneapolis, with Anthony Cox and Kevin Washington.

The Chicago hit includes a solo set; if the Piano Sonata goes well in Boston I’ll present it there, and maybe include a movement at the Dakota also.


More press coming in…

Tony Badran has paid a gratifying amount of attention to what I’ve been trying to do all this time, and wrote up his thoughts for Tablet. “Iverson’s respect for and engagement with the jazz tradition imbues his music with a real warmth while avoiding the traps of musty pretentiousness.”

The estimable Willard Jenkins has interviewed me for Open Sky, and includes a nice note at the top. “A few weeks ago Ethan Iverson struck again, this revelation was his debut recording for the classic Blue Note label, Every Note is True, this time in trio mode with the auspicious rhythm section of bassist Larry Grenadier and NEA Jazz Master drummer Jack DeJohnette. Clearly some questions were in order…”

Mark Padmore’s Songs of the Earth

The British tenor Mark Padmore is on tour in America. Most of his performances are with Mitsuko Uchida in the celebrated Beethoven and Schubert cycles An die ferne Geliebte and Schwanengesang. They play Cleveland, Philadelphia, Princeton and New York (Zankel Hall).

Padmore is also unveiling a new mixed program of song and poetry, Songs of the Earth.

Billy Collins – As if to demonstrate an eclipse
Franz Schubert – Im Abendrot
Mary Oliver – Mysteries, Yes
Gustav Mahler – Ich atmet’ einen linden Duft
Robert Schumann – Mondnacht
Kathleen Jamie – Perfect Day
Vaughan Williams – Silent Noon
Aaron Copland – Nature, the Gentlest Mother
Hanns Eisler – Sprinkling of Gardens
Robin Robertson – Keys to the Door
Gabriel Fauré – Prison
Philip Larkin – Going, going
Reynaldo Hahn – Chanson d’automne
Tansy Davies – Destroying Beauty
William Wordsworth – Lines Written in Early Spring
Benjamin Britten – At day close in November
Seamus Heaney – Clearances
Benjamin Britten – The auld Aik

——————————————————————-

Charles Ives – The Cage
Rainer Maria Rilke – The Panther
Rebecca Clarke – The Tiger
D H Lawrence – The Snake
Benjamin Britten – Fish in the Unruffled Lake
Rainer Maria Rilke – from 8th Duino Elegy
Sally Beamish – O Hoopoe
Wallace Stevens – Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird
Charles Ives – Housatonic at Stockbridge
Franz Schubert – Die Mutter Erde
Hayden Carruth – Essay
Ralph Vaughan Williams – Nocturne
Elizabeth Bishop – One Art
Gustav Holst – Betelgeuse
W H Auden – If I could Tell You
Franz Schubert – Frühlingsglaube

The program has a message.

I’m the pianist for the performances in Albany tomorrow (free admission!) and San Francisco March 16. In Albany the poems are being read by Sarah Deming and in SF by Keiko Carreiro and Velina Brown.

We ran the program for a few friends on Friday at Yamaha studios and it went very well. Sarah and I are old pals with Mark and it really feels “all in the family” in the best way.

I was mostly unfamiliar with this repertoire (although I might have pushed Mark into adding “Housatonic at Stockbridge” because that is one of my favorite Ives songs). One of the many revelations is “Betelgeuse” by Gustav Holst, a shocking abstract work from 1929. Benjamin Britten played piano for a recording by Peter Pears.

The three Britten songs on the program are all wonderful, as are the two Ralph Vaughan Williams selections. It’s all a reminder of the explosion of compositional creativity in the early 20th century. There’s something “British” about Holst, Britten, and Vaughan Williams, but they did not write in one style. It was all on the table. (Just last week I auditioned the Vaughan Williams Piano Concerto, which was reworked into a version for two pianos after performers complained. Striking music, complex rhythms, bitonal. At first blush the version for one pianist seems more instantly charismatic.)

As a performer, Mark pays a lot of attention to the text, whether it is Schubert’s Winterreise or Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. The addition of poetry to Songs of the Earth is a natural progression, and the cumulative effect is extraordinary.

Mark is a friend, but he’s also a profound musician, and I am grateful for this opportunity to learn from a master.

Review Bonanza

Tonight at 7: A trio hit with Larry Grenadier and Nasheet Waits streaming from WBGO at Yamaha Studios. It was a pleasure to meet Sheila Anderson, who writes more about the event here.


Some nice press coming in. I’m on the cover of the major Italian magazine Musica Jazz. “I love genres” — certainly true.

Ivan Hewett in the Daily Telegraph: “Charming and cheerful, the jazz pianist’s new album is nevertheless full of surprises”

Nate Chinen: “Every Note Is True, the new Blue Note debut by Ethan Iverson, rings with a sense of at-homeness — not home itself, per se, but a mix of fondness, familiarity and assurance.” (Happy Valentine’s Day!)

Giovanni Russonello in NY Times: “Bacharach meets Brahms meets John Lewis” — I feel seen!

Christian Carey at Sequenza 21: “An auspicious label debut that demonstrates the imagination, breadth, and wit of Iverson’s playing while maintaining a spirit of enthusiastic collaboration. Highly recommended.”

John Garratt at Spectrum Culture: “His tendency to view jazz through a classical or rock lens does nothing to dilute its power.”

Tim Niland: “Pianist Ethan Iverson creates an engaging and accessible album in his debut for Blue Note Records” 

Interview with Craig Byrd for Cultural Attaché.


Thanks to all for listening and reading. Positive reviews at Amazon make the world go ‘round

Every Note is True

It’s February 11, 2022. I’m 49 years old today, and my Blue Note debut is out. Happy Birthday!

Watch “First Look” with Don Was, a 10 minute talk about the record with the president of Blue Note.

Don says that when he first heard the opening choral piece, “The More it Changes,” he started to cry.


I’m very happy with this substantial profile by Martin Johnson for Tidal, “It’s Got Conviction.” My journey is not so easy to explain, but Martin gets it.


It was great fun to meet Jessica Brilli the other night in Boston. One of Jessica’s paintings is the cover of Every Note is True. Literally everyone I know who has seen the cover has said, “Wow! Great cover.”


Last night I was delighted to meet Sheila Anderson for the first time at a video taping with Larry Grenadier and Nasheet Waits for WBGO. The set was filmed at Yamaha Artist Services and will be broadcast next week to WBGO supporters. As we all know, WBGO is the greatest radio station in the world.

Larry, Nasheet, and I play again tonight at Roulette. The first half is Ritornello, Sinfonias, and Cadenzas played by NEC students. They did great on Monday at Jordan Hall, and are coming down on Amtrak today to do the New York hit. Thanks so much to NEC jazz director Ken Schaphorst for supporting this project!


Every Note is True. Thanks to

Sarah Deming, wife and lyricist.

Anthony Creamer, executive producer.

Larry Grenadier and Jack DeJohnette — and also Vinnie Sperrazza and Simón Willson, who extensively rehearsed the repertoire with me in the months leading up to recording.

Shane Hoshino: piano tech. Also everyone else at Yamaha Artist Services, especially Bonnie Barrett.

Andreas K. Meyer, engineer. (Andreas also did the capture of Common Practice with Tom Harrell. Top shelf!)

Don Was and the rest of the Blue Note/Capitol team: Rachel Jones, Cem Kurosman, Justin Seltzer, Melissa Cohen, Alex Anastasi, Molly Kreppel, Katie Moore, and Eileen Whelehan.