Last May 7, Piloo Records issued the 5th album by pianist, composer and vocalist Kerry Politzer, called Blue In Blue. Playing the piano since the age of four, Politzer studied classical piano for 14 years before falling under the spell of jazz, and she has committed herself to playing and composing in that idiom ever since. While working toward a bachelor degree in Music In Jazz Piano Performance at the New England Conservatory of Music, she got to study under the highly influential jazz instructor Charlie Banacos, who had previously taught or worked with noted musicians like Mike Stern, Danilo Perez, Wayne Krantz, Jeff Berlin, Vic Juris, Michael Brecker, Marilyn Crispell, Leni Stern and Rachel Z, to name a few.
Whereas prior CDs like the previous release You Took Me In co-featured her singing talents, Blue In Blue is set out to be an instrumental small combo acoustic jazz record through and through. Paul Beaundry supplies bass while George Colligan provides drums. Donny McCaslin brings his saxophone to four of the tracks.
By keeping it down to a tidy group, it makes it easier to focus on Politzer's compositions and how she uses both her piano and group dynamics to bring them to life. Politzer incorporates Brazilian intonations into her music, sometimes subtly ("Sing") and other times explicitly ("Shifting Clouds," Brazilian Accents"). Other songs are crisp, rollicking waltzes, like What Will Be." She's also very adept to playing in concert with Beaudry's bass, who often spins off these interesting little countering harmonies like on songs such as Desolation Or Hope." Early Spring Chill" is infectiously buoyant and reminds me a lot of Chick Corea's early compositions. Here again Politzer and Beaudry work together well, and Politzer delivers light, dancing lines that explore possibilities presented by the melody but is never overplayed.
The best track, however, comes right after that one. November" is a little bouncy, a little blue and plenty harmonically advanced, but with a melody strong enough to stay in your mind long after the last note fades. McCaslin, one of the best overlooked tenor players these days, does a great job applying his sweet, expressive delivery to bring it out.
Dedicated to the memory of Mr. Banacos, who passed away last December, Blue In Blue is a record he would surely be proud of inspiring. Visit Kerry's website here.