Edward Simon / Edward Simon Group

Beauty Within

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Venezuelan born pianist Simon is clearly a great musician, classically trained, influenced by the virtuosity of Chick Corea and Eddie Palmieri, and tempered by the modern musings of Wynton Kelly and Kenny Drew. But Simon has a style he can call his own, at age 24, on this debut CD. Six-string electric bass guitarist Anthony Jackson and drummer Horacio "El Negro" Hernandez provide tons of coal to stoke Simon's roaring fire, and trumpeter Diego Urcola is added on three of the nine tacks, all save one originals of the leader. The old love song "El Dia en Que Me Quieras/The Day in Which You'll Come to Love Me" is rendered beautifully by the full quartet in soulful and wise ballad style, Jackson leading a small samba-based bridge, Urcola briefly quoting Carla Bley's "Ida Lupino." The outstanding "Homecoming" uses kinetic measures of swapped seven- and eight-beat foundations for piled-up multiple themes and motifs too numerous to count, a dazzling array of ideas. Reprises "1" and "2" reiterate these concepts with more cascading or clipped expressions, respectively, the former faded out prematurely. Exposing his love for Corea on the title track, Simon starts on a pretty intro then jumps into a 7/8 mid-tempo phrase that grows into distinct Chick-isms, whereas the impromptu "The Calling" is quite reminiscent of a Corea "Children's Song" in very slow 3/4, trumped up in the melody department, but again it faded out before its time. This is a very fine first effort, but it's clear Simon has talent to burn. He's going to be one of the more formidable jazz pianists on the contemporary modern scene for a long, long time. Recommended.

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