Donal Fox

"Donal Fox is a remarkable pianist who has positioned himself on the cutting edge of jazz by incorporating classical techniques and melodies. The pinnacle of his achievement is found in his blending of Monk and Bach, in his vivid reimaginings of the Modern Jazz Quartet, and in such dazzling original works as 'Scarlatti Jazz Suite' and 'Italian Concerto Blues.' Donal is one of a small handful of musicians who embody the promise of jazz's future." <br />-- Gary Giddins, New York <br /><br />"Fox’s music is unlike that of anyone else, while at the same time it evokes McCoy Tyner, Art Tatum, the intensity of Coltrane and of the blues, shades of Bach and Cuban music." <br />-- Jazz Hot, France <br /><br /> "Confounding the Genre Police <br />-- Downbeat Magazine <br /><br />"An omnivorous, completely two-handed, pianist who works in the contemporary, classical and jazz fields, Fox likes to break down barriers, especially between the classical and jazz repertoires. But his mixes are a lot more thick, wild and wooly than the two jazz pianists who've created similar blends, John Lewis and Dave Brubeck". <br />-- George Kanzler, Hot House, New York <br /><br />“Fox, equally steeped in jazz and classical, utilizes Monk and Bach as mere samples of his cross-genre proficiency. The spontaneity in the improvisational-based performances framed by Fox's understanding and virtuosity in both idioms allowed him naturally to incorporate and explore themes of each on moment's notice, resulting in a personal combination of the two.” <br /> -- AllAboutJazz-New York <br /><br />Donal Fox's jazz plays upon many traditions <br /><br />"Fox's band has the Modern Jazz Quartet's poise <br />and John Coltrane Quartet's power" <br /><br />Composer/pianist Donal Fox has forged a unique amalgam of jazz, Latin American, and classical music. Past projects have focused on Johann Sebastian Bach, but the centerpiece of Saturday night's Regattabar performance was a jazz suite incorporating the music of Domenico Scarlatti . <br /><br />Fox was accompanied by vibraphonist Stefon Harris, bassist John Lockwood , and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington. This instrumentation inevitably brings the Modern Jazz Quartet to mind, but Fox's band married that group's cool poise with the power and momentum of the John Coltrane Quartet. <br /><br />The opening number was based on an Astor Piazzolla tango. Rather than presenting the usual string of solos, piano and vibraphone engaged in a fluid, improvisatory dialogue. Lockwood and Carrington's bass and drums provided active but essentially supportive background for the friendly jousting of Fox and Harris. <br /><br />The second number was Fox's ``Inventions in Blue," which drew from Bach's Two-Part Invention No. 4 in D Minor. It began as a rapid, African-sounding vamp, spelled by lyrical piano chords that floated over the pulsating rhythm. Harris's swinging, bluesy solo was bouyed by Lockwood's walking bass and Carrington's urgent ride cymbal. <br /><br />Then Bach's invention was introduced, played faithfully at first by piano and vibes. But Fox and Harris began stretching out as the African rhythm returned, revealing that the initial vamp had indeed been based upon a cadence of Bach's. With the full band's headlong velocity re established, Fox and Harris played intense percussive patterns that interlocked in an exciting rhythmic counterpoint. <br /><br />Next came Bach's Fugue No. 23 in B Major, set to a Latin beat and building to a two-fisted Fox solo. A sensitive rendition of Horace Silver's ballad ``Peace" was dedicated to Eric Jackson's 25 years as a DJ on WGBH. <br /><br />"The Scarlatti Suite" was structured similarly to "Inventions in Blue," but built to even greater heights. Its rhythms shifted from African to tango to a suggestion of ska. Carrington soloed with spell binding counter rhythms over an almost frighteningly intense full-band vamp. <br /><br />After a standing ovation from the sell-out crowd, the band encored with an affecting rendition of Schumann's gentle ``Davidsbundler" No. 2, Op. 6. <br /><br />By Kevin Lowenthal, Globe Correspondent <br />© Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company