(l-r) Joey Calderazzo and Aaron Parks  at Salle Gesu, FIJM ©Brett Delmage, 2012
(l-r) Joey Calderazzo and Aaron Parks at Salle Gesu, FIJM ©Brett Delmage, 2012

Joey Calderazzo and Aaron Parks
Montreal Jazz Festival, Salle Gésu
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 - 10:30 p.m.

This concert was the first time pianists Aaron Parks and Joey Calderazzo had formally played together.

The antithesis of Renee Rosnes and Bill Charlap, who had played the night before in the same hall – “We're not married and we don't have a record,” Calderazzo informed the audience – they simply decided it would be interesting to play together “and hopefully we get to do this again”.

They had prepared the set list by exchanging several emails and having one phone conversation: “He named four standards; I knew one. I named five standards; he knew one. And here we are.”

The result: a musical conversation which was loose and fun, which loped around in different directions without ever falling over the edge, and which showcased the strengths of each pianist.

They started off with two quiet ballads, which demonstrated a considerable delicacy, dynamic range, and careful attention by each pianist to the other. When Calderazzo played the melody, Parks added grace notes; when Parks improvised, Calderazzo filled in the bottom with the melody.

They added in originals: for example, “Riddle Me This” by Parks from his Invisible Cinema album, where both pianists cooperated in telling the story through changing rhythms over the melody. But the most memorable pieces were the standards: each played one solo piece, and Parks' version of “Melancholia” by Duke Ellington, in which he appeared to be immersing himself in the magic of the melody. Several times he stopped and started again in a slightly different place exploring the melody first tenderly and then more substantially. Calderazzo's solo piece (name not announced) was a ballad, which started out slow and romantic, but which he then deconstructed in a very thoughtful manner, changing rhythms and playing around with it without ever completely losing the thread of the melody.

By the end of the evening, both the audience and the musicians sounded happy with the 90-minute combination of up-tempo numbers and ballads. After a standing ovation, Calderazzo and Parks closed with “The Meaning of the Blues”, which started slowly and carefully and then alternated between the two to produce an intense, beautiful presentation.

    – Alayne McGregor

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