Recommended: Dan Tepfer Trio – “Eleven Cages”


Dan Tepfer draws out so much damn personality from each song.  Were they characters in a book, you’d believe them modeled after real life individuals, with only the name changed out of respect for privacy.  On his latest release, the cloak-and-dagger melody of “Hindi Hex” and the jitterbug excitement of “Roadrunner” and the deep contemplation of “Minor Fall” instill a sense of motivations and conflict, of backstories spurring the characters on through the plot twists that lay ahead.  Even a cover of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” steps up like an alternate universe rendition, where the meaning and the message veer wildly from the source material.

Tepfer leaves his signature on a piece, and the music of Eleven Cages further cements the qualities of his particular style on piano.  The music is clever without being in-your-face-italicized clever.  There’s an unending supply of passion that, thankfully, never devolves into melodrama.  This body of work possesses a sharp wit and a keen intelligence, and it never gets caught admiring itself in the mirror.  And the music is rippled with the themes and inspirations that set things into motion, and it’s very easy to forget their presence even as the effect is felt from those same qualities.

It’s pretty easy to recommend this album.  And if you’re new to the modern jazz scene and in the process of sketching out a map of who to keep on your radar on who to explore further, Tepfer is your choice for the former, while bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Nate Wood satisfy the criteria for the latter.

Your album personnel:  Dan Tepfer (piano), Thomas Morgan (bass) and Nate Wood (drums).


Released on Sunnyside Records.

Listen to more of the album at the label’s Bandcamp page.

Music from Brooklyn.

Available at:  Bandcamp | Amazon