Horace Tapscott

The Tapscott Sessions, Vol. 8

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The late pianist Horace Tapscott may have been under appreciated in mainstream jazz circles, though peers and critics were well aware of his worth and his contribution to the canon of the piano as both a composer and as a player. Given Tapscott's dearth of recordings -- at least in terms of the longevity of his career -- these volumes of solo work issued by Tom Albach and Nimbus in Amsterdam give us a much needed overview of Tapscott's phenomenal reach and command of the instrument. Far from scraping the bottom of the barrel, these later volumes are as strong, if not stronger, than the earlier ones. Here Tapscott is featured in four performances of tunes that were fairly standard in his repertoire: Mal Waldron's "Fire Waltz," Randy Weston's "Little Niles," Monk's "Crepuscule With Nellie," and his own "As a Child." What these performances reveal is how influential Tapscott was on pianists such as Craig Taborn, Brad Meldau, James Williams, and even Keith Jarrett to a lesser degree. Tapscott's sense of lyricism is especially present on these selections as existing on a cellular level. His advanced, even otherworldly harmonics were created by an inherent sense of melody and an undeniable feel for the instrument as part of the percussion family. Listen to Waldron's "Fire Waltz" and its solo break from the tune in the center of the piece. Tapscott creates a bridge from Waldron's harmony to that of whole tone improvisation without losing the sense of the original melody because it has been grafted onto the new structure rhythmically. Tapscott's illustrious polytonalism was truly groundbreaking. Luckily for us we have these collections so painstakingly assembled by Albach as evidence to the pianist's singular contribution to the canon of the instrument.

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