FOR THE BEAUTY OF THE EARTH
Liz Gorrill, solo piano and voice
After a stark, brooding deconstruction of Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is The Ocean," Liz Gorrill goes on to createa startling solo piano record that explores territoryhovering somewhere between Paul Bley and Ran Blake.Certainly there's a classical touch and strong feel offormal rigor about her playing that ranges from theSatie-like repetitions of "Secrets Start Singing" to thefugue-like romp of "Two Hands Made Of Sun," a startling performance that made me smile as it conjuredup a further point of reference: Lennie Tristano. Fromimpressionist miniatures like "Shaken Out In Thunder"and "The Stormy Wind" to sustained meditations like"Gardens Dying, Blossoming," Gorrill explores anadventurous program that is simply exquisite.
Cadence, January 1999
Based upon the poetry of Jalal-ud-Din Rumi and Colette Aboulker-Muscat, pianist/vocalist Liz Gorrill has scripted an alluring florid companion that evokes the poignancy of prose as she keenly balances silence with italicized statements. As a pianist, she delivers flickering impressionistic lines that suggest a deep compassion for European classical music and free jazz. But there's a clarity in playing that keeps it from tipping over to brainy self-indulgence or emotive nonsense. Her plaintive vocal works magic in this context as she transforms worn classics like Irving Berlin's "How Deep Is The Ocean" into a meditative prayer. "For The Beauty Of The Earth" is not the easiest of listenings, but it rewards with every return.
Jazz Times, June 1999
Solo piano and voice have long been Gorrill's channels to and from a rich inner life. The spiritual search continues in this recently recorded music, most of it of her own conception. A meditative, completely altered "How Deep Is The Ocean" opens the door on Gorrill's own pieces, presented in two groupings inspired by poems of Jalal-ud-Din Rumi and Colette Aboulkar-Muscat. Gorrill's improvisations on phrases and imagery from these poems are a continuation of their process of discovery.
There is a brief pause along the path to revisit "Stella By Starlight" and pursue an interpretation that is perfectly integrated into the overall program, but essentially this is a highly personal and originalmusical experience.
Jazz News, December 1998
It's time, once again, for the IN TUNE AWARDS, when we honor our wonderfully talented local music makers and their recordings. The envelopes, please.
The FOR THE BEAUTY OF HER MUSIC AWARD:
to Liz Gorrill, for her CD "For The Beauty Of The Earth." Liz Gorrill, a pianist and composer, lives in one of the most beautiful areas of our region -- western Sullivan County, where the Delaware River flows, the green trees touch the blue sky and the rolling hills and mountains invite you to see forever.
Her music not only was inspired by the currents of the river and the feeling of the wind through the trees, but also sounds like those forces of nature. It rumbles like thunder. It glistens like a rainbow. It flutters like a breeze. And when Gorrill sings "How Deep Is The Ocean" in her rich voice, shemakes you truly appreciate the wonder of it all.
Times Herald Record, October 1998
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.
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.
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!
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.
Option, May 1992
Liz Gorrill, solo piano
This disc opens with a positively vicious deconstruction of "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To," taken apart into thick clusters of notes and right-hand filligree that travel off at strange angles, but all held together by an insistent swing. And Gorrill takes it from there, with an originality that makes tracing her influences (the critic's favorite game) difficult: Monk, certainly. But Horace Tapscott? Dave Burrell? Cecil Taylor? Andrew Hill? Mal Waldron? Maybe. In her own compositions, which comprise the bulk of this live set, I'd say all of the above. I especially love her take-no-prisoners manner with standards. She does an excruciatingly unresolved version of "It Could Happen To You," for instance, almost a pun on the title. Gorrill clearly is a major pianist.
Option, Nov/Dec 1991
Ignore the unfortunate crystal-tinkling title. This is hardcore solo piano in the universe of Lennie Tristano and Cecil Taylor: knotty free improv marked by pounding, massive odd chords, then sudden lyrical delicacy. Recorded last year live before a small audience in the West Village, Gorrill is most accessible on the standards "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" and "It Could Happen To You." But even they're nearly unrecognizable, rewrapped with her own emotion and intellect. There's little easy listening here. Gorrill's inner trip is as harrowing and exhilarating as white-water boating, and just as breathtaking.
New York Press, November 1991
This latest solo piano concert recording for Gorrill is another testament to her individuality. Although concentrating on her own compositions, she has a revealing approach to standards, a couple of which are reconfigured in this set --- Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice To Come Home To" and the Johnny Burke/ Jimmy Van Heusen favorite "It Could Happen To You." Gorrill's own pieces range from powerful, densely constructed impressions to surprising single-line phrasing of gentle themes. The title song anchors a three-piece dream sequence in which a mysterious, personal inner world is opened to the listener. All three segments are lengthy. Although each has its core of intensity, the improvisation seems to move at an unhurried pace. Music that demands close attention but rewards you well for the commitment.
"The Women Of Jazz"
Ottawa Citizen, March 1992
The specific gravity of late nineteenth century piano music provides a measure of Liz Gorrill, whose "Dreamflight" documents a 1990 concert at New York's Greenwich House. It runs 74 minutes; the final half hour is a three-part suite. It's difficult, uncompromising music that is well worth hearing. Though Gorrill is associated with the Tristano school, and her penchant for chordal extension comes from there, she takes it to lengths and weights that can suggest Busoni, the brilliant pianist, composer and deranger (of Bach organ works, especially) who around the last turn of the century achieved levels of pianistic excess that Liszt is only accused of.
Gorrill's music here has a density that just about obscures roots in song form changes, often fixing itself within the lower and middle registers where sheer resonant force eclipses specific triadic orgins. The short "Chord Storm" is just that, very heavy, very deep, very thick chords, that pile up. (For immediate purposes, a chord is a combination of ten notes, an unfortunate physical limitation that can be overcome with the sustain pedal and rapid hand movement.) There is great power here, though it's power that sometimes feels oppressive.
The final "Dream Sequence" begins with a piece entitled "Blues From A Subterranean Galaxy," which, without a hint of Sun Ra's leavening humour, should give a sense of what's going on here: just imagine space converted to mass. What is remarkable, however, is what Gorrill achieves by the end of the sequence. The final "Deep Awakening," along with numerous other moments in the performance, has such kinetic energy that it levetates not only itself but the burdens of history, particularly piano history, that Gorrill so willingly assumes elsewhere.
Coda, May/June 1993
Liz Gorrill's music is a complex, densely textured exploration of time and space. Musicians associated with the New Artists label tend to demonstrate a strong affinity for Lennie Tristano's music. Gorrill is no exception. It's most evident in the fleet, snaky right hand work. Equally telling is the drastic restructuring of "I'll Remember April" as "We'll Remember May." But Tristano is not Gorrill's only influential source. She seems to have done some heavy listening to Cecil Taylor as well. Gorrill's dark harmonic textures and powerful keyboard attack seem to come as much from Taylor as Tristano. The strength of the music lies in her fusion of these two sources. The one weakness is in the rhythmic area. This is music that ebbs and flows, accelerates and decelerates. Over the disc's 70 minutes + playing time, this listener was ready for something a little more decisive, rhythmically speaking. That said, there is still much to absorb here. >From the well-modulated performance of "A Different Kind Of Melancholy" to the brief flurry of "Chord Storm," Gorrill speaks in a unique voice.
Cadence, March 1992
A JAZZ DUET
Liz Gorrill, piano
Charley Krachy, tenor saxophone
On "A Jazz Duet" Gorrill teams up with tenor saxophonist Charley Krachy (another Tristanoite, to judge from his clear, thin, Marsh-like intonation) for four brief free improvisations and six lengthier interpretations of Tristano-favored standards, including a slowed-down, beautifully eclipsed "How High The Moon".....Gorrill slam dances between registers with such aplomb that her duets with Krachy occasionally remind you not only of Tristano and Marsh, but of Cecil Taylor and Jimmy Lyons. In other words, "A Jazz Duet" summons up memories of piano-and-saxophone duets you only THINK you've heard --- testimony to its power, if not to its originality.
The Village Voice, June 1991
Pianist Gorrill and tenor saxophonist Krachy, playing live at Greenwich House in New York City, are verymuch out of the Lennie Tristano school of cool, angular improvisation, with Gorrill sometimes going a touch further into something darker and more dissonant. She often favors the lower octaves, and isn't afraid to take chances --- witness the not completely successful block chord atonality on "All Of Me," where she extablishes an intriguing but limited structure which defies her attempts at development. Elsewhere, though, her ideas and execution are captivating. Krachy has a softer tone which, at his most lyrical, echoes Stan Getz (especially his unaccompanied solo on "How High The Moon"), but he is more often inflectionless and dispassionate in the manner of early Lee Konitz or Warne Marsh. Gorrill and Kracy work well together, and the collective mood which they create is not at all bloodless and academic (as one might expect) but rather melancholy, ethereal, and sometimes mysteriously threatening. Among other things, this music displays the courage of its aesthetic convictions, and it's a welcome antidote to all the faceless neo-bop and fuzak which seem to constitute about 90% of recent jazz releases.
Option, Nov/Dec 1990
Piano and tenor sax interplay is the focus of this performance recorded in concert at New York City's Greenwich House late in 1989. Whether re-examining standards or unfolding their own compositions, both musicians open themselves to the music and its possibilities for interpretation. For all the individuality and freedom of movement, there's a strong, confident sense of direction in the work of both players. In addition to the title piece, a brief moment of free association, the duo's originals include "Sunstorm", a brief burst of fireworks; "Passionate Weather," a more spontaneous response to the moment without being threatening, for all its power; "Blues For A Lost Moment," hinting at the essence but never overtly stating the trademarks of the blues.
It's a demanding and creative performance.
Ottawa Citizen, April 1991
Liz Gorrill is a strong pianist whose lines brim with conviction and resilience. She utilizes the whole keyboard (and the pedals) to construct dense clusters of sound, chords that may not always lie easily but make you sit up and listen. She does not soothe with pretty lines but attempts to make every solo an adventure, often succeeding. She seems to strip every layer of meat off the bones of a melody, worrying it until she gets right to the marrow.
This exploratory approach from the methodology of Lennie Tristano but with a most personal interpretation, makes heavy demands on the listener. Concentration has to be up front and the journey can sometimes be harrowing, for this music consistently challenges but frequently
The two instrumental voices merge satisfyingly on "317 East 32nd Street" where Gorrill offers not only a bass line, but also apt commentary for the saxophonist in cleverly obscured "Out Of Nowhere" territory.
Most of the structures are familiar, but they merely serve as secure foundations for daring improvisation. Dynamics are important in such intimate music, and Liz Gorrill's variety of touch becomes an essentialingredient in ensuring that the performances move through many layers and engender subtle shifts of mood. With all its complexity, the music maintains a momenturm and inner logic that is a tribute to the participants. "How High The Moon," that perennial jazz racer, has its character reversed by a slow, reflective treatment in which no pet licks are used to escape hatches.
A most stimulating set, at its best, perhaps, when the duo swings unselfconciously and with considerable exhilaration on "My Melancholy Baby."
Jazz Journal, July 1991
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.
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.
Ottawa Citizen, December 1988