Peter Ecklund's new album
Now available as a download from
Marianne Mangan on BLUE SUITCASE
Peter Ecklund is a conjurer, a creator of musical moods that span time, place and idioms. In this collection of jazz/pop eclectica, a combination of Ecklund originals and reinterpreted/rearranged standards, he evokes eras and emotions with a startling clairvoyance: you never heard it before, you never heard it THAT way before, but it feels exactly right.
And he does it with a unique methodology: the careful construct of skilled instrumentalists engineered to play as one with MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) files, all filtered through the operating system of an Apple computer. The result is BLUE SUITCASE—a technologically-assisted artistic vision, in every instance as musically astute as a dozen bands specific to their bookings.
Take these revamped staples of early jazz: the once-rollicking romp San is a moody retro-tech visit to the dark continent, returned to sunny refrain by way of ukulele and clarinet. Dinah is hot as ever in a cooler sort of way, and technically brilliant in the hands of Ecklund and Block. The Broadway stalwart This Can’t Be Love here becomes an accordion-accented fugue for engaging trumpet and flugelhorn choruses, a succession of muted and open-horn improvs.
On the lead-off non-original (but hardly un-original) in this set, secrets are exchanged between triangle, trumpet, accordion and ukulele. Old Madeira Waltz lulls with its laconic delivery and intrigues with its mysterious tone.
Now witness Ecklund the composer as time-traveler in Tail Fins—top-down breezy, at once sweet and bittersweet—and so perfectly 1950s that the millennial stress starts to seep from your pores. Watching the World Go By takes you to the ’60s as surely as these boots are made for walking (and those doomsday disco riffs preceding a cheerful trumpet lead and plaintive vocal are precisely the mixmaster magic so prevalent throughout).
Or timeless as a silver screen legend, when a well-played saw (yes, saw) evokes the angel-voiced end of a Warner Brothers’ melodrama with the propulsive melody of an Italian cinema score. Add a jazz-baby chorus, a vaguely yokel vocal incanting film star infatuation, and finish with a brassy Hollywood fanfare: a Love Sawng for the ages.
Finally, the ‘meter-medley’, a quartet of varied pleasures in celebrated
For swingers…From gruff fiddle licks through jaunty conversational exchanges, the aptly named Texas Shuffle never loses its
irrepressible rhythmic bounce.
For classicists…As the horns and accordion elaborate on Lazy Ragtime’s filigreed rhythms they are underpinned not by alternating
bass notes and chords but arpeggiating strings. Of course.
For sweethearts…A lovely, questioning melody and orchestral
changes of venue turn the classic slow-slow-quick-quick into a folk
sonatina with every variation of strain and instrument: a courtyard in
England, a forest in Eastern Europe, a ballroom in New York.
Horn, accordion, Foxtrot. Romance.
For everybody…The gentle thesis of Waltz for a Song is stated
in muted brass, spun out open-voiced against a circular undercurrent,
then returning home—as all good waltzes do—with straightforward yet
intense exposition. BLUE SUITCASE meets the most iconic dance of all,
and the benefits are mutual.
© Marianne Mangan, 2010
CDs & Educational Products
Below are some of Ecklund's currently available recordings and educational products:
Horn of Plenty (2008) Inner City. Originally released as "Melody Makers" by Stomp Dff in the late '80s as LP and cassette only With Marty Grosz, Dan Barrett, Vince Giordano, Frank Vignola, Ken Peplowski, Joe Muranyi, Eddy Davis, Barbara Driewicz and others, grouped into several different ensembles. The overall style is 1920s hot jazz. The cover of this CD is almost the same as "Gigs" (below), which has caused some confusion.
Strings Attached (1996). Arbors ARCD 19149. With Greg Cohen, Richard Crooks, Chris Florey, Marty Grosz, Kenny Kosek, Molly Mason, Lenny Pickett, Scott Robinson, Cynthia Sayer, Jay Ungar, Frank Vignola, Murray Wall. Four ensembles with 9 original tunes and 7 standards.
Gigs (1999) Arbors ARCD 19230 With Harry Aceto, Warren Bernhardt, Dan Block, Gary Burke, Steve Cardinas, Greg Cohen, Richard Crooks, Peter Davis, Guy Fichetti, Kelly Freisen, Bobby Gordon, David Grisman, Marty Grosz, Keith Ingham, Howard Johnson, Joel Martin, Molly Mason, Ken Peplowsaki, Madeliene Payroux, Cynthia Sayer, Frank Vignola, Pete Toigo, Jay Ungar, Murray Wall. Four ensembles play 8 original tunes and 7 standards.
Also: "A Friendly Chat"—Peter Ecklund (trumpet) and Louis Mazetier (piano)—Jazz Connaisseur JCCD 9932-2; (1999) "Christmas at the Almanac Music Hall' (barcode 71237-0102-2). A CD from 1994, "Eckund at Elkhart" (Jazzology) is still avaiilable. For the Potted Palm Orchestra, go to pottedpalmorchestra.com.
Swing dance music—2 CDs by Lindy Hop Heaven and Pat Melita's CD.
Doveman—go to dovemanmusic.com.
The books of transcribed solos by Louis Armstrong and Bix Biederbecke are published by Charles Colin, New York (charlescolin.com)
Music Minus One has two Ecklund play-alongs (books-CDs); "The Further Adventures of Bix Beiderbecke" and "Back to Basie, Back to Basics."(musicminusone.com)
Licensing (Use of music in movies, shows, etc.) administered by Riptide Music - riptidemusic.comCD Baby
See Peter Ecklund at Dariel Atelier for Bix Beiderbecke and Louis Armstrong transcriptions, lead sheets for some of Ecklund's original tunes, and more. There's also a bio on Wikipedia and another at the Cool Groove.