Marc Copland

Alone

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Recording for the Munich, Germany-based Pirouet label in the mid- to late 2000s, Marc Copland was heard in a variety of acoustic-oriented post-bop settings (including quartets and piano trios). And on his 2008/2009 recording Alone, the Philadelphia native is exactly that -- alone. Copland plays unaccompanied solo piano throughout this 69-minute CD -- no bass, no drums, no guitar or horns, just Copland and his acoustic piano -- and the result is an album that is as absorbing as it is introspective. One of the things that makes Alone a creative success is the fact that Copland uses an intriguing variety of songs for his introspection. In addition to embracing three Copland originals ("Blackboard," "Into the Silence," and "Night Whispers"), the pianist interprets material ranging from Sammy Cahn's "I Should Care," Bronislaw Kaper's "Hi Li Hi Lo," Mal Waldron's "Soul Eyes," and Wayne Shorter's "Fall," to three Joni Mitchell songs: "Michael from Mountain," "Rainy Night House," and "I Don't Know Where I Stand." One certainly cannot accuse Alone of adhering to an all-warhorses-all-the-time policy; only a few of the tunes have been recorded often enough to be called standards. "Fall" isn't one of Wayne Shorter's better-known compositions, and many of the listeners who have heard countless jazz recordings of Kaper's "Invitation" may not even be familiar with "Hi Li Hi Lo." Further, Copland deserves a salute for recognizing the jazz possibilities in Mitchell's incredibly rich songbook; although her albums generally fall into the folk-rock/folk-pop category, she has long had jazz influences (Mitchell, clearly, is the best singer/songwriter to recommend if one's ultimate goal is to get Joan Baez or Sarah McLachlan fans to start listening to Chris Connor, Anita O'Day, Helen Merrill, and June Christy). Copland takes his share of chances on the excellent Alone, and they pay off handsomely.

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