Oct 30 2012
I first became familiar with Jon De Lucia’s Luce Trio back when it was in its Kickstarter stage. He submitted a preview track from the album (if he were able to get it recorded) to the AllAboutJazz Download of the Day. I still recall being floored by its sparse lilting beauty, that a tune with such a solemn demeanor could pack such an evocative punch.
That track really stuck with me.
But in the deluge of new music that hits my inbox, memories begin to fade a bit. That’s why I was so thrilled to find a completed recording of Luce Trio titled Pieces, Vol. 1, and no less thrilled to discover that the preview track was an accurate representation of the sublime music presented on this album.
Looking to bring a jazz improvisational approach to baroque and early musics, De Lucia imbues solemn austere music with a candle’s flickering warmth. As he describes it…
The baroque era is known to have produced some of the
greatest pre-jazz musical improvisers. So I thought—and there
is a tradition of this in jazz—that we could bring improvisation
into play while playing the music of Bach and Handel.
The album was recorded at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church in Brooklyn, an astute match for the music and its source material.
The album opens with the De Lucia original “Chant.” The silky drone comes from a sruti box, which is similar to a harmonium, and De Lucia can operate it with his foot as he plays sax. Between that, Ferreira’s guitar hum, and some arco on bass, a rich soil has been tilled for De Lucia’s flowering saxophone notes to sprout up to the church ceiling.
The second track is the one that first captured my attention month ago. The Handel aria “Lascia Ch’io Pianga” has De Lucia pirouetting gracefully on sax as guitar and bass take deliberate staggered steps in opposite directions and contrasting elevations. It gives the effect of two people walking a spiral staircase in differing paths, and the motion created is the slowly twisting centrifugal force of saxophone. It still amazes me how embraceable this track is for all its elegance, which typically inspires more of observation from a distance.
Four of the nine album tracks are De Lucia originals. Bach is hit upon three times, including the chorale “Jesu, Deine Passion,” which closes out the album with a bedtime story fit for comforting moonlight and twinkling stars on a clear winter night. The remaining two album tracks are, as mentioned above, by Handel, and one by Elizabethan lutenist John Dowland. De Lucia takes two compositions of Dowland’s (“I Saw My Lady Weepe” and “Flow, My Tears”), and let group improvisation fall between the two. Much to its benefit, this creates an effect of three part story more than two compositions merged into one.
Is it first thing in the morning and the sun is just starting to play with shades of blues and pinks and oranges in the morning sky? Play this album. Is it late at night, the crickets are yawning, and there’s a sense of a world asleep? Play this album. Or any moment, when a respectful silence fills the air and you need music to fit right in, Pieces, Vol. 1 is the answer.
You can stream the entire album at the artist’s bandcamp page. You can also purchase it there in CD format or any number of digital formats.
Download a free album track at AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artist. And you can also download the track I reference in the intro, which is a demo version of an album track, also available at AllAboutJazz, courtesy of the artist.
The album is Self-Produced.
Jazz from the Brooklyn scene.
If it becomes available at eMusic in the future, I’ll add the link then.