Visit Nancy’s CBC Artist Page
Visit Nancy’s CBC Artist Page!
Read Peter Hum’s review of “New Hieroglyphics”
Over the years, Toronto pianist Nancy Walker has been a familiar and welcome presence in Ottawa, thanks to her steady gig in the TD Ottawa International Jazz Festival’s jam session house band. As a result, many Ottawa jazz fans are more than familiar with Walker’s poise at the piano, her versatility, her harmonic savvy and her melodies that blend lyricism and logic.
Her new CD, New Hieroglyphics, delivers what we’ve come to expect — and more. It seems to me that Walker, whose current studies have included lessons with Jason Moran and Myra Melford, is delving into more tense and intriguing musical material on her new disc. Moreover, New Hieroglyphics is front-loaded with more raucous, somewhat harder-edged fare such that the disc feels to me almost like progression from Walker’s more current, knottier areas of interest to more consonant, clearly upbeat pieces.
With the brash modal tune Mehndi, Walker and her band mates (guitarist Ted Quinlan, bassist Kieran Overs, drummer Ethan Ardelli) hit the ground rocking. While Walker may have put lyricism before aggression in the past, her new CD’s opening track flips that dichotomy. Walker’s surging, crunchy piano solo, Quinlan’s howling guitar expertly shadowed by Walker and Ardelli’s driving drums make this track especially forceful.
Late Bloom, a short solo piano piece, changes the pace. It’s probing and contemplative, but to my ears it hints at Walker’s growing embrace of sophisticated, less jazz-based musical materials — the title may well indicate as much. Perhaps one of Walker’s more recent muses is the Catalan composer Federico Mompou, much beloved by such discerning jazz pianists as Richie Beirach, Edward Simon, Bernardo Sassetti and Taylor Eigsti. At least so it would seem, given Walker’s piece Federico, which begins with a miniscule bit of material and grows into something grandiose. The title track, built from a nine-note tone row, is a boisterous tune with several stages. Following its theme, Quinlan builds his statement over ostinato accompaniment by Walker and Overs. For her part, Walker’s monumental solo over a churning background is one of the disc’s high-energy highlights. To boost the tune’s concluding phase, Walker overdubs some chorused Fender Rhodes — an addition to her disc’s sonic palette that reoccurs as the CD progresses.
The Great Hall, extends the electric piano overdubbing into what I think of as the disc’s second act. The Phrygian-mode extravaganza reminds me of some of the jams on Jack DeJohnette’s Music We Are CD. Companion Moon has a similar vibe, deploying the Rhodes for colour and Quinlan’s acoustic guitar for melody. In between those two tracks are Imprint, a contemporary, straight-eighths, odd-meter tune, and Beacon, a heartfelt bossa-style tune for Walker, Overs and Ardelli.
The disc’s three final tunes are its most traditional offerings. Take You There is a second-line groover that sounds positively happy-go-lucky compared to some of the disc’s earlier, darker fare. Intentional Blues brings out allusions to Thelonious Monk en route to fuill-bodied swinging… and Brave Heart is a gospel waltz that brings the CD to a grounded, celebratory conclusion.
- Peter Hum, Ottawa Citizen Jazzblog.ca
New Hieroglyphics is available for digital purchase and download at bandcamp!
Read other reviews of New Hieroglyphics on the Press page
Buy “New Hieroglyphics”
You can buy Nancy’s new cd New Hieroglyphics featuring Ted Quinlan, Kieran Overs and Ethan Ardelli at iTunes, CD Baby or bandcamp
New Hieroglyphics can also be purchased at Atelier Grigorian’s two locations: Yorkville Avenue in Toronto, or Lakeshore Road in downtown Oakville, Ontario.