COSMIC COMEDY
NA1012

Liz Gorrill, piano
Andy Fite, guitar

If this set was a horror flick it would be called "The Return of Intuition and Digression" in reference to the free-form tracks---the first ever free-form tracks---laid own by the Lennie Tristano sextet in May, 1949.

This return, though, is welcomed. Gorrill and Fite take the ideas implied in those two pioneering tracks and expand upon them in nine improvised duets full of rare grace and emotional nuance. Fite plays guitar with strong Charlie Christian overtones.Despite the contemporary setting the spirit of the great swing string master is evident throughout, and especially when Fite brings it to the fore on "Another Universe," where he quotes "Seven Come Eleven." He fills his single-note lines with blues and swing references. Fite's lithe style serves as a foil for Gorrill's strong, percussive piano. At times, as on "Another Universe," she builds her solos like a drummer. Thick, hammered figures repeated a few times before a contrasting figure is introduced. At other times, as on "Rainbow Camouflage," she backs long, serpentine right-hand lines with the strong single note walking bass so typical of the Tristano school. The latter is straightahead free-form swing. On "Blues For The Child," the duo fashions a dark, dirge-like piece. "A Dream Of April" is a ballad of a different kind, full of lacy upper register piano fingers with a floating sense of time. "Eight Haiku" consists of snippets as evocative of Webern's "Six Bagatelles" as anything in jazz. Each track has its virtues.
Highly recommended.

David Dupont, Cadence, May 1992

A concert at New York's Greenwich House produced this exciting collaboration between pianist Gorrill and guitarist Fite, a free-spirited development of jointly conceived material. There are teasing glimpses of familiar standards dancing behind these new structures, but you are soon caught up in the inventive interplay for the sake of its new directions rather than its older inspirations.

Gorrill has a real flair for setting irregular phrases and melodic material against rhythmic figures that would swing in any jazz environment. Fite throws himself into the adventure just as wholeheartedly and shows a sly sense of humor to match Gorrill's. This music will make you enjoy stretching your musical boundaries.

Lois Moody, Jazz News, December 1993

It's a colossal CD - "Cosmic Comedy" - where Fite and Gorrill mix high and low, seriousness and humor, improvisation and quotes in an alloy of rare density and brilliance.

Gorrill seems to be a master of the complete "jazzpiano literature" and adds to that her own strong personality: a twenty-first century Tristano, although still more swinging!

Fite takes on the nine originals without a grain of anxiety or lack of self-esteem; he seems to be fully aware of his mastery, and he uses that knowledge to deepen his playing even further.

Duo music of world class, all categories!

Bjarne Moelv, Folket (Sweden), July 1992

For my money, Gorrill is one of the most promising young pianists in jazz. She has tremendous technique, a thunderous sound, adventurous harmonic ideas -- and she swings. What's more, she hasn't been seduced by the insidious retro groove that so many other young players are stuck in..... Fite's at his best on the more subdued pieces, such as "Eight Haiku" and "A Dream of April," where his guitar offers a contrast to Gorrill's dark tones. Though several of the tracks on this disc are swinging take-offs on jazz standards ("Laughin' & Swingin' " has fun with "All Of Me") most are Gorrill/Fite originals.

John Baxter, Option, May 1992

PHANTASMAGORIA
(NA1004CD)
Liz Gorrill, piano
Andy Fite, guitar


An exceptional recording. Gorrill and Fite stretch Tristano's concepts out with Gorrill's rumbling left hand and stark chords meshing with Fite's biting, angular guitar. Both sing on "Out of Nowhere" and "All Of Me." Gorrill has a mysterious, other worldly quality in her voice that again meshes perfectly with Fite's more traditional scatting. A perfect duo that hopefully will appear on record more frequently.

Tim Smith, Cadence, August 1989

Pianist Gorrill and guitarist Fite present an impressive series of duets that deal in complex harmonies, intricate interplay, and consummate musicianship. But it's not just empty technique. Their improvisations are laced with humor and warmth. "Grieving" is an abstracted improvisation that finds Gorrill building up a gauzy curtain of piano while Fite alternates between bluesy comping and picking out single note lines that are picked up and amplified by Gorrill. "All The Things You Are" is given a harmonically recomposed theme that opens up into a contrapuntal improvisation carried along by Gorrill's walking bass line. The title track is a free improvisation that builds up quite a head of steam in its brief (less than two minutes) running time. The two tracks that feature vocals are the weakest, since neither Gorrill of Fite is a particularly strong singer. Other than that, this is quite a good CD.

Robert Iannapollo, Option, Mar/April 1989


For healthy tension in jazz improvisation, it's hard to top the piano/guitar duo format. There's such a potential for working inside harmonies and extending them, but there's always that risk of getting in each other's way harmonically. This New York duo's adventure is a happy and successful one.

Gorrill is a pianist whose musical conception andpianistic style have their roots in the work and teachings of the late Lennie Tristano. Fite is a young guitarist whose work is new to me, so I don't know what this session represents in terms of his development or matured style. He is certainly a full partner in this freely interpreted music, and not over-powered by the strong individualism of Gorrill.

A lot of conventions and rules are broken throughout this program of essentially original music. There are three standards ("All The Things You Are", "Out Of Nowhere", and "All Of Me" --- the last two with vocals) but each is virtually reconstructed in the out-of-tempo, sometimes percussive, always expressive style that Gorrill has developed. This is an intense, harmonically challenging session whose instrumentals are definitely the most rewarding tracks.

Lois Moody, Ottawa Citizen, December 1988

 

TIME ON MY HANDS
(NA1029)
Carol Liebowitz, vocals
Andy Fite, guitar

I’m not sure what most senior citizens would make of Carol Liebowitz’s renditions of the music of their lives. Liebowitz, with musical partner Andy Fite on guitar, takes this clutch of standards and twists and winds them into new shapes. What distinguishes her approach is her reverence for the words of the songs and high handedness with everything else. From the first chorus she bends the lyrics through her sweeping, melismatic improvisations. The impression is that Liebowitz is improvising the lyrics. This gives the poetry an urgent edge. I found myself hearing the lyrics afresh. “Love Me or Leave Me” is emotionally wrenching in a way I’ve never heard it.

Fite’s guitar work is spare, yet probing. He provides just the right underscoring for the singer’s emotional readings. In his solos, he never sounds like he’s straining to fill every measure to the max. He doesn’t play any notes that don’t count. Yet as understated as his improvisations are, they display utter confidence in his own mastery of the instrument. He fingers long
melodic lines punctuated by dry stroked chords, leaving enough air to let his creations breathe. Fite deserves far more credit as a guitarist than he receives.

The pieces, though, have a surface sameness that can make the session wearying over its full length. This is an example of a date that probably would be far more effective on an LP with its two shorter, more focused sets.

Regardless of the medium, though, lovers of these songs who are not afraid of a little adventure, as well as guitar aficionados, should check this out.

David Dupont, Cadence