Marc Copland

Haunted Heart and Other Ballads

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Marc Copland has a unique piano approach with instantly recognizable harmonies; a kind of dreamy dissonance that's more gentle than jarring. Listening to his music is like being in a sun-dappled forest glade which is both soothing and mysterious. He's in fine form on this varied material, which includes compositions by Gershwin, Cole Porter, Coltrane, and Sting, as well as something original (the thoughtful, luscious "Dark Territory") and something traditional (a slow, ethereal "Greensleeves"). The CD is cohesively knit together by the ballad theme and with three brief solo meditations on "My Favorite Things," each different and intriguing. Copland pays tribute to John Coltrane (and his own roots as a saxophone player) with the rarely-pianized "Crescent," and swings gently on Sting's "When We Dance." The trio goes boppish on "Soul Eyes," slow and sexy on "It Ain't Necessary So," and gorgeous on "Haunted Heart," a beautiful tune which has long attracted other lyrical pianists like Bill Evans and Fred Hersch. There's strong work throughout from top bassist Drew Gress, who takes a number of warm, melodic solos, and drummer Jochen Rueckert, whose well-placed swishes and flutterings add the perfect impressionistic touch but who can also kick it when necessary, as he proves on the superb version of "Easy to Love." Copland is an original, adventurous player who never loses the audience, and the crisp recording here adds to the enjoyment.

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