(English follows the Japanese)
By Takaaki Kondo, Tokyo Jazz Review
Jim Beardさんは1960年Philadelphia出身のjazz pianist、keyboardist、composer, arranger。Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, John Scofield, Mike Stern, Dennis Chambers、Bob Berg等のバンドでの活躍が有名で知られています。7歳でピアノを始め、編曲をDon Sebeskyに、jazz pianoをRoland Hannaに習うと共に、George Shearingのプライベート・レッスンを7年間受けています。1985年にNYに進出してすぐにJohn McLaughlinのMahavishnu Orchestra、Bill Evans (saxophonist)、Mike Stern、Dave Liebman、Eliane Eliasのバンドに参加。1986年にはWayne Shorterのバンドに参加し2000年までの14年間活動を共にしています。1988年にはJohn Scofieldのバンドで、1992年と1993年にはPat Methenyの"Secret Story project"でワールドツアーを行なっています。彼の作品は Grammy賞に7回ノミネートされ、Randy BreckerとMichael Breckerの作品"Some Skunk Funk"で2007年のGrammy賞の"Featured Performer"部門で受賞しています。
さて、本作品は彼の長年の友人であるComposer/Cconductor/ArrangerのVince Mendozaの指揮により、世界で唯一ストリングス・セクションを持つオランダのビッグバンド、Metropole Orchestraと共演しています。内容は全10曲、Classic、Jazz、R&B、Rock、Soul、映画音楽、フュージョンが次々に飛び出してきて、とにかく楽しい！
一聴して何だか初めて聴いた感じのしない懐かしい気分になりました。全10曲中4曲が91年の初リーダー作"Song of The Sun"からの曲。それ以外にも過去の作品からの再演が2曲含まれています。Soloistとしては、GuitarのJon HerringtonとサックスのBob MalachとBill Evansが光っていますね。曲はJimのオリジナル曲ですが、メンドゥーサがアレンジするとその表情は一変します。知的で繊細なJimの楽曲にメンドゥーサのラテンの血が注ぎ込まれ、一気に燃え上がる！メンドゥーサの入念に作り込まれたハーモニーとエンターテインメント性が繰り成す独特の音世界は麻薬的で、聴けば聴くほど虜になっていきます。弦と管が複雑に且つ美しく絡み合い、類稀なるファンタスティックな音世界が構築されています
Jim Beard: piano, synthesizer, composer;
Bob Malach: tenor saxophone;
Ruud Breuls: trumpet;
Jon Herington: guitar;
Paul van der Feen: soprano saxophone;
Bar van Lier: trombone;
Bill Evans: soprano saxophone;
Leo Janssen: tenor saxophone;
Marcio Doctor: Latin and ethnic percussion;
The Metropole Orchestra; Vince Mendoza: conductor.
1. Holiday For Pete & Gladys
4. Lost At The Carnival
5. Holodeck Waltz
7. In All Her finery
8. Parsley Trees
10. Crossing Toll Bridge
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Jim Beard - DIANA
Jim Beard's reputation as the electric keyboardist for Michael Brecker is his most prominent credit of many others that have for the most part been ignored. This excellent recording with two different editions (2005 and 2007) of the Metropole Orchestra and special guest soloists should elevate his cache exponentially, as a composer, performer, and colorist of the highest order. Collaborating with arranger and conductor Vince Mendoza, Beard plays mostly acoustic piano, a little synthesizer, and Fender Rhodes with the acclaimed horns and strings of the premier European big band that has primarily backed singers in past years. This material has been issued previously on Beard's studio albums, but here they enjoy new treatments and arrangements. The title and its relation to the cover art of a carousel relates directly to the revolving themes heard, not the aspect of this music being revolutionary. Still, as these are updates and expansions of Beard's previously produced music, you do hear echoes of Seventh Avenue New York City contemporary jazz, majestic classical and ethnic elements welded onto more subtle adaptations that, combined, signal a much wider expansion of Beard's initial concepts. Dr. John meets Henry Mancini meets the Brecker Brothers on the light strut opener "Holiday for Pete & Gladys," with tenor saxophonist Bob Malach a perfect choice as the lead voice. More on the model's catwalk, "Princess" is a staccato-sexy walk in neo-bop mode with Latin trim, a subtle six-beat regal tango with fluttery flute and strident piano identifies "Crossing Troll Bridge," and the soprano sax of Bill Evans buoys an industrial feel, a Baroque section, and funky repose on "Parsley Trees." The more orchestral pieces, "Hope" and "Diana," are as positive and lovely as their titles, the former stringy with a staggered march rhythm underneath steely guitar and Beard's synthesizer, the latter a pretty tune with small Brecker-like phrases and the Fender Rhodes of the leader. Two tracks are quite ethereal, as oboe, strings, and Beard's piano move through two beat and 6/8 time on "In All Her Finery," while the self-explanatory "Holodeck Waltz" is clearly an ode to Star Trek: The Next Generation with its mysterious, fantasized echoes and lucid dream sequences. Beard and his collaborators have not only played this music pristinely, but programmed it to the point where a greater story is told, demanding you listen from start to finish. This is a recording of outstanding resolve, deserving wider recognition for the exceptional talents of Jim Beard and all the musicians on board. Simply put, these sounds are irresistible if you enjoy the basics of melody, harmony, and rhythm without the constraints of traditional jazz.
- by Michael G. Nastos, All Music
Jim Beard might just be one the best modern jazz composers; correction, music composers, you've never heard of. Since the mid 1980s he's either, performed, produced or written compositions for the likes of Wayne Shorter, Michael Brecker and Pat Metheny, and recently can be heard providing his wares on Walter Becker's (of Steely Dan) recording, Circus Money (Mailboat Records, 2008). Yet it's Beard's own critically acclaimed (if obscure) recordings, beginning with his 1990 debut, Song of the Sun (CITI), where he transcended above the typical jazz fare with music that remains imaginative, groove-centric, and filled with idiosyncratic ideas. After an almost ten year hiatus since his previous release, Advocate (Escapade, 1999), Beard is back with Revolutions, glamorously re-envisioning some earlier works now in collaboration with conductor-arranger Vince Mendoza and the Netherlands-based Metropole Orchestra. The winner of two Grammies, Mendoza's arrangements have appeared on recordings including Bjork, Bobby McFerrin, and Joni Mitchell. He has plenty of fertile ground to cultivate with Beard's vivid ideas and together with the orchestra and some special guests, Revolutions glistens with style and panache. Beard's music is modernist in context, covering a range from Gershwin to Zawinul and drawing upon and expelling a variety of stimulus and emotions that fit comfortably in swanky dancehalls, dramatic cinema scores, or quaint venues. Mendoza's conducting of the orchestra furthers expands the already visual music into grand escapades of sound. Verdant strings on the opening number, "Holiday For Pete & Glady," add to the airy swing and the feint but pronounced clarinet voice and the cymbal cadence on "Hope" simply magnify Beard's work. The soul of Beard's music is never lost in this enormous scheme. Case in point is the deeply moving "Diana" (from Song of the Sun). The original melody, once sung beautifully by harmonica master Toots Thielemans, is now shared by a host of instruments, yet still retains its spirit as individual soloists (Ruud Breuls on trumpet and Beard's long time associate, Jon Herington on guitar) add even more poignancy. Colorful personalities are also part of Beard's music. The flamboyant "Lost At the Carnival" combines the dramatics of a Lawrence of Arabia-like film score with infectious Latin rhythms and robust arranging. The choreographed dance of instruments in "Holodeck Waltz," with Beard playing synthesizer, is a blend of the elegant and bizarre. "Princess" is truly "groovy" with its 1960s psychedelic cha-cha while Beard "gets down" on acoustic piano. The spectrum of detailed composition is heard in the bliss of instrument voices on "In All Her Finery," the sweltering big band swing of "Trip" or the eccentricities of the closing piece, "Crossing Troll Bridge," complete with military drums encapsulated in a flowing groove. Revolutions is a stunning achievement and testament to Beard's talent. Excellent work by everyone involved. Here's hoping that there's more to come in the near future.
By MARK F. TURNER, Published: August 4, 2008
You might safely call Jim Beard jazz's king of the underrated. His wit, wisdom and sure skills as keyboardist, producer and composer have been tapped by the likes of Michael Brecker, Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Mike Stern and John McLaughlin. Beard has been misrepresented (or imcompletely branded) as a "new fusion" musician, and his solo albums from the '90s - rich and witty marvels all - have been ritually overlooked. All of which brings us to his wondrous Revolutions, a painterly circus of his music in expanded circumstances, with the aid of arranger Vince Mendoza and the Metropole Big Band and Orchestra. Much more than just a Euro side project, the album illustrates how Beard's music expands beautifully in the bigger-better band format, how Beard's and Mendoza's concepts and sense of color mesh, and also offers a retrospective overview of choice tunes from Beard's songbook. Fine soloing abounds along the way, including Beard's eloquent turns on piano and cameos by saxophonist Bill Evans, trumpeter Bob Malach and guitarist Jon Herrington, but the power of the written (and arranged) note is largely responsible for the wow factor. We get a hint of tricks (and treats) to come in the very first two measures of the album, as Beard sets up "Holiday for Pete & Gladys" with a New Orleans-y solo piano riff - in the wrong key. Beard's writing, sympathetically textured and fashioned in Mendoza's charts, moves from the stuff of "Lost at the Carnival" and "Princess" - both hip, festive and lightly spiced with kitsch - to the Wayne Shorter-tinged lyricism of "In All Her Finery" and the sophisticated triple-meter sway of "Holodeck Waltz." If a "fusion" ethos is at work, it's all for the aesthetic good, and is approached by Beard with rare degrees of humor and creative subversion. Pop ideas and slyly catchy melodies squirm around the jazz campus grounds, like some jazzier kinfolk of Steely Dan's jazzed-up pop tack, but in the other direction. Let the reappraisal begin.
- Josef Woodard --JazzTimes - Nov. 2009
James Arthur Beard (born August 26, 1960 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is an American jazz pianist and keyboardist, contemporary instrumental composer, arranger and
Jim Beard is best known as a performer, writer and producer who has had long-standing working relationships with artists like Wayne Shorter, John McLaughlin, John Scofield, Mike Stern, Dennis Chambers and Bob Berg.
Jim was born in Philadelphia and developed a keen interest in music from a very early age. He first wanted to play tuba (at age 5), then drums and saxophone shortly after. His parents decided that he should start with piano and move to the other instruments later. He began with piano at age seven and his classical teacher for almost twelve years was Mary Anne Rietz. As a teenager, he studied arranging with Don Sebesky and jazz piano with Roland Hanna and also studied privately with George Shearing for several years. He credits as strong influences during his teen years were Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, Erroll Garner and the Thad Jones / Mel Lewis Jazz Orchestra as well as Elton John, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan and Earth Wind and Fire. He also studied clarinet, saxophone and double bass all before the age of 15. He took his first overseas tour at the age of sixteen with The American Youth Jazz Orchestra under the direction of Hal Schiff. Jim attended Indiana University studying jazz under David Baker and classical piano under John Ogdon earning a BMD and the highly coveted ‘Performers Certificate’. While in university, Jim performed professionally with jazz artists such as Slide Hampton and Red Rodney and was in a bar band who's members included Jon Herington, Kenny Aronoff, Bob Hurst and Chris Botti. Jim's musical influences in his college years were Herbie Hancock, Wynton Kelly and Prince.
Jim moved to New York in 1985 and quickly established himself in the contemporary jazz community. Within a year of arriving, he became a touring member of John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra , started working relationships with Bill Evans (saxophonist) and Mike Stern and had recorded with Dave Liebman. He also began producing many successful recordings for artists such as Mike Stern, Bob Berg. Bill Evans (saxophonist) and Eliane Elias. In 1986 he began a working relationship with Wayne Shorter that lasted until 2000. In 1988 he became a member of John Scofield’s band and he toured the world in 1992/1993 with Pat Metheny’s ‘Secret Story’ project.
Jim established himself as a writer during his early New York period by contributing compositions to Michael Brecker and John McLaughlin recordings. Jim is noted for a uniquely eclectic and often whimsical compositional style which can run the spectrum from rich and deeply wild to melodic and childlike. His compositions and arrangements can incorporate elements of humor, unpredictability and classical forms. Many of Beard's compositions have been recorded by top jazz artists, for example "The Wait" by John McLaughlin; "Riddle Me This" by Bob Berg; "In The Hat" by Victor Bailey; "Ode to the Doo Da Day", "Quiet City" and "The Gentleman and Hizcaine" by Michael Brecker and "I'll Miss You" by Bill Evans (saxophonist).
Throughout the 90s and 2000’s, Jim Beard has remained very active performing, writing and producing. He is considered to be the ‘musicians musician’ and has worked in the studio and on stage with Victor Bailey, Rosa Passos, Ralph Bowen, Jon Herington, Steve Vai, Madeleine Peyroux, John Mayer, Walter Becker, Richard Bona, Esperanza Spalding, Steely Dan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Al Jarreau, Dizzy Gillespie. Chris Botti, David Sanborn, Bela Fleck, Larry Carlton, Vince Mendoza and Kenny Garrett taking on musical responsibilities that range from playing piano to programming computer sequencer music to producing.
Jim has released five solo recordings: “Song of the Sun” in 1990 that featured Wayne Shorter and Michael Brecker. “Lost at the Carnival” in 1995. “Truly” in 1997, “Advocate” in 2000 and "Revolutions" in 2008. His music productions and compositions have been nominated for seven Grammy awards and Jim won a Grammy in 2007 as a featured performer on 'Some Skunk Funk' (Randy and Michael Brecker).
Jim Beard has taught at Berklee College of Music in Boston, the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland, and the Aaron Copland School of Music in New York. He has taught graduate-level arranging and composing, improvisation, applied piano, ensemble and has also been juror and mentor for doctoral students.
Song of the Sun (1990) - Jim Beard
Lost at the Carnival (1994) - Jim Beard
Truly (1997) - Jim Beard
Advocate (1999) - Jim Beard
Revolutions (2008) - Jim Beard