“…upbeat, joyous and uplifting album, from beginning to end.” All About Jazz
Ted Piltzecker – vibes, piano, percussion
Rogerio Boccato – percussion
Sam Dillon – saxophones
Nick Llerandi – guitars
Jerad Lippi – drums
Mike Kujawsi – bass (Harvie S. on track 3)
1. Steppe Forward (3.54)
3. He Sent An Angel (5:06)
5. Kalunga (5:15)
6. Why So Long? (6:45)
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
By BRUCE LINDSAY
From the opening notes of “Steppe Forward” itself, Ted Piltzecker and his sextet give a clear statement of intent: Steppe Forward is going to be an upbeat, joyous and uplifting album, from beginning to end. As the closing bars of “Reunion Blues” fade away, it’s clear that the band has achieved this intention, with a lively, inventive and engaging set of tunes and some exceptional playing.
A former member of pianist George Shearing’s Quintet, Piltzecker leads a young group of musicians through a varied set of tunes, all characterized by the mellow and warm sound of the leader’s vibes. All but one of the tunes is a Piltzecker composition, the exception being Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream,” inspired by Baroness Pannonica de Koenigswarter (friend and supporter of many great jazz musicians including Charlie Parker and Thelonius Monk). It’s a lovely arrangement, with soprano saxophonist Sam Dillon and acoustic guitarist Nick Llerandi both playing gentle but insistent solos, while Jerad Lippi’s underpinning drums are slightly more assertive and complement the lead instruments perfectly.
“He Sent an Angel” is a slow and beautiful tune, with Piltzecker playing the melody line and keeping things simple but, at the same time, creating an intimate and personal relationship with the song. Some of the finest music on the album arises from the interplay between Piltzecker and Dillon. This is at its best on “Kalunga,” with the vibraphonist and saxophonist almost indistinguishable at times as they deliver its lilting, flowing melody.
“Why So Long?” doesn’t quite match the standard of the rest of the album. It’s pretty, and Piltzecker’s solo is one of his best, but it lacks a strong theme and, at almost seven minutes in length, overstays its welcome. The album’s high standard returns for “Reunion Blues,” though; a bop-influenced number that features a smooth, brightly toned tenor solo from Dillon, fluid electric guitar from Llerandi, and a chance for bassist Mike Kujawski to shine on his own solo.
Steppe Forward is an accessible album, with a warmth and humanity throughout. Piltzecker and his fellow musicians are talented and stylish, capable of swinging or of creating a more emotive and reflective atmosphere. His tunes are a delight, and the band brings out their full potential.
JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN
Cool Vibes from Ted Piltzecker & Company
The vibraphone has a hard time escaping its associations: you hear it, and you think real neon, and tail fins, and scotch on the rocks – or you think noir. Or you might confuse it with a Fender Rhodes. On his new album Steppe Forward, jazz vibraphonist Ted Piltzecker evokes all three, but he also adds his own ingenuity. The band here includes Sam Dillon on saxophones, Nick Llerandi on guitar, Mike Kujawski on bass, Rogerio Boccato on percussion and Jerad Lippi on drums.
The title track works a breezy circular theme that hints at Middle Eastern-tinged apprehension, with neatly interlocking acoustic guitar and vibes. Flight Following is a carefree dance with swaying, energetic alto and gritty acoustic guitar, evoking early Spyro Gyra in the days before they were played in elevators. A slow 6/8 soul/blues ballad with a vintage 50s feel, He Sent an Angel has Piltzecker’s tersely chordal piano pulling the song back from a clever 4/4 interlude. Their version of Wes Montgomery’s Nica’s Dream has an understated swing, with solo spots for incisive soprano sax and expansively spiky guitar. The real gem here is Kalunga, an ominously modal bossa number, matter-of-fact yet otherworldly. The bluesy ballad Why So Long has Dillon alternating fluid 8th-note runs with balmy ambience, followed by a dreamy Piltzecker solo. The album winds up with the lickety-split Reunion Blues, bass taking it unexpectedly halfspeed and then back, the band revving it up and out from there with gusto. Yet further proof that some of the most original and interesting jazz out there lies somewhere beyond the confines of the big city club circuit.
JAZZ REVIEW Contemporary Jazz – CD Reviews
Steppe Forward by Ted Piltzecker & Company
TP & Company is a memorable jazz excursion for all listeners interested in an enjoyable collection of jazz songs. The playing is remarkably smooth and harmonic, and the CD is a nice eclectic collection. Ted Piltzecker has composed most of the songs, and each is a tribute to his vision as gifted jazz composer.
There are seven songs in the collection. Each track is intriguing, and the music is contemporary jazz with a well-defined Brazilian percussion.
Songs include “Steppe Forward,” “Flight Following,” “He Sent An Angel,” Horace Silver’s “Nica’s Dream,” “Kalunga,” “Why So Long?,” and “Reunion Blues.” “Reunion Blues” is a fine work, and worthy of much jazz radio playtime.
Listening to Ted Piltzecker perform on vibes or piano, or percussion is enjoyable. The group is filled with excellent musicians, each an expert on his instrument. Each performance is a nice voyage into what good jazz is all about in comtemporary times, and each performance lingers in the listener’s mind with good memories. The melodies are superb!
If you are interested in good, exciting jazz, this is a CD to pick up for your home collection, or for a friend, and to have your local acquisition librarian order for the library. Good solid jazz makes this CD a standout work.
Highly recommended. The vibes work is exceptional.
THE MUSICIANS' OMBUDSMAN
CD Review/TP & Co./Steppe Forward
Jazz vibist Ted Piltzecker has by default succeeded in conjuring up a palatable and compelling CD Project if just by his choice of sidemen and the specific jazz standards contained therein. ”Nica’s Dream” stands out as one of the group’s successgful treatments that will stir your sensibilities. The group luxuriates and grooves with excitement, charm, and lyricism as they bring this particular take to fruition. The combined group plays with a certain emphatic cadence that can’t be denied as well as with musical and harmonic contrasts that will startle one’s imagination. Subjectively speaking, I hear strong music that is enriched, delicate, decorative, mysterious and subdued albeit broad and thoughtful. George W Carroll The Musicians’ Ombudsman
JAZZ IN SPACE
TP & Company, Steppe Forward
A veteran member of the George Shearing Quintet, vibes player and pianist Ted Piltzecker dives headfirst into a Brazilian flavored set that marries engaging rhythmic interplay to crisp original compositions that ring true for their melodic inventiveness and accessibility. This is feel-good music with bite, highlighted by the percolating rhythm of the title track, a sensitive waltz (“He Sent An Angel”) and the authentic pulse of “Kalunga.” This independently released project is performed by a stellar group of unsung musicians – percussionist Rogeiro Boccato, saxophonist Sam Dillon, bassist Jerad Lippi and Mike Kujawsi on drums. A refreshing rendition of Horace Silver’s, “Nica’s Dream,” serves up an intoxicating beat with a twist of Nino Rota and features a compelling guitarist named Nick Llerandi who nails Piltzecker’s limber arrangement with his gentle, samba-inflected solo. The program lasts a brief 37 minutes but it feels expansive and is masterfully executed. (7 tracks; 37:24 minutes).
TP & Company – Steppe Forward(Corner Mushroom 1)
The TP stands for Ted Piltzecker, a whizz on vibraphone, piano and percussion. I think this is his debut album as a bandleader, and he has recruited a band of hot young musicians to play his music. A veteran of the legendary George Shearing Quintet, the music on Steppe Forward is mellow jazz with a touch of Brazilian rhythms. The seven tracks are: Steppe Forward, Flight Following, He Sent An Angel, Nica’s Dream [written by Horace Silver], Kalunga, Why So Long? And Reunion Blues. The rest of the musicians are Rogerio Boccato – percussion, Sam Dillon – sax, Nick Llerandi – guitars, Jerad Lippi – drums, Mike Kujawsi – bass [Harvie S on track 3]. As I say the music is predominantly mellow, especially on He Sent An Angel, but it also swings [listen to Nica’s Dream to hear what I mean] and has a powerful kick in places. Mr Piltzecker has a sprightly touch on the vibes, its sonorous tones weaving in and out of the other instruments and never hogging the limelight throughout. I think Steppe Forward is one of those jazz albums that the anti-jazz will listen to with pleasure – I’ve certainly been playing this regularly on my audio system for pleasure, and I do that with only few of the albums I receive here at The Borderland for review.