Stanley Cowell

It's Time

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Stanley Cowell has long established himself as a major jazz pianist, even if he has only recorded sporadically since the mid-'90s. Turning 70 in 2011, he entered the studio late in the year to record mostly original works, joined by bassist Tom Dicarlo and drummer Chris Brown, both former students of the pianist at Rutgers. "Cosmology" is a lively, intricate bop workout with a twisting theme, while the more deliberate "El Space-O" has a mysterious air and a Latin undercurrent. Two suites follow, starting with "Asian Art Suite." The first two movements focus on India, the latter on China. "Vishnu on the Serpent" is initially tense, with effective use of Dicarlo's arco bass in the introduction, then segues into a brisk, meandering theme that retains its exotic air. The breezy "Krishna" suggests a chant, featuring Dicarlo's potent solo as its centerpiece. The final movement, "Glass Ball & Couch Bed," blends Cowell's delicate lines with Dicarlo's warm arco bass and Brown's cymbals, a shimmering work. "Civil Rights Suite" blends works by three composers. Max Roach's insistent "It's Time" is fiery bop, followed by Roland Alexander's elegant ballad tribute "King" and the leader's celebratory "We Shall 2." "Brawl Inducer" is reminiscent of early-'60s post-bop experiments, with an eerie theme and march-like cadence by Cowell's rhythm section. It's Time is a landmark recording in Stanley Cowell's discography.