Pianist Geoff Lapp and I have never met in person, and we probably never will. He lives in the huge metropolis known as Montreal, Quebec, Canada, while I live in the tiny hamlet of Wood Village, Oregon.
According to Yahoo! Maps, the distance between the two cities is a staggering 2,976.49 miles. The driving time from one place to the other, non-stop, is just over 44 hours. (See map below.)
Nonetheless, I consider Geoff Lapp to be a good friend of mine, and I am very pleased to finally be writing about him and his music.
When “Saturday Night Jazz” was still on the air on KMHD, Geoff Lapp helped me promote the show on several occasions by providing a lucky few of my listeners (winners of call-in contests that I would occasionally stage) with download codes that would allow each of them to obtain a free digital copy of one of his CD’s.
Not coincidentally, that is the disc that I want to tell you about this week.
Before we go any further, I really should tell you a little about Geoff Lapp and his background. He was born in Montreal in 1953, and studied under Art Maiste at McGill University. His early musical experience was in the pop world, but he soon developed a reputation for having a large repertoire of jazz standards. In the early 1980’s he put the pop world behind him and stepped into the jazz world.
Since that time, Lapp has performed with many jazz’s luminaries, including Paquito Rivera, Slide Hampton, Don Menza, Sonny Cole, and others.
Lapp and his trio have released a few CD’s, but the one I want to talk about tonight is their 2006 Elephant Records release, “Stained Glass”.
The crew for this one are:
Geoff Lapp, piano
David Laing, drums
Paul Johnston, bass
“Stained Glass” presents us with ten songs, evenly split between Lapp’s own compositions and jazz standards. I’m only going to write about some of them today. You’ll have to discover the wonder and beauty of the rest on your own. 🙂
Up first we have “Sunny Rays”, one of Lapp’s originals. Perhaps fittingly, this one begins with an introductory drum roll, as if to get things going in grand style. Lapp joins in almost a minute later, tentatively at first, then more forcefully. The liner notes describe “Sunny Rays” as “glistening with bright, glassy tones that conjure up the play of sunlight at the edges of freshly contoured glass.” I agree. “Sunny Rays” has a light-hearted appeal that brings a quick smile. This is the longest song on the album, running just over nine and a half happy minutes.
Next we have “Elsa”, from the pen of the late Earl Zindars and made famous by Bill Evans. This song begins quietly enough and then things pick up a bit. Although it never reaches anything close to barnburner intensity, “Elsa” has a nicely engaging pace that makes it a wonderful piece of music to listen to from start to finish. The guys obviously know this one well and they do a great job with it.
I tried to find out how many times “With A Song In My Heart” has been recorded, and that seemingly simple task proved to be about as easy as herding cats in a hurricane.
After a fruitless search, I gave up. Safe to say, the Rodgers & Hart classic surely must be one of the most-recorded songs in history, yet it always seems fresh and new.
There is a, lilting opening that quickly segues to a fast-paced, enjoyable arrangement of this most familiar of tunes. When you’re dealing with a trio, each musician is an absolutely vital part of pretty much every part of a song, and this group’s rendition of “With A Song In My Heart” is fantastic.
The Billy Strayhorn composition “Day Dream”, is up next. This is a quiet piece, from start to finish, and is a dramatic change of pace from the previous number.
One could say the same about the “Kathy’s Waltz”, which follows. This is another of Lapp’s own songs, and it has a delightful melody that keeps the mind engaged despite its simple sound.
“Yo Bro” has a catchy opening that will captivate you and not let go. This is one of my favorite of Lapp’s originals, and I think you’ll enjoy it also. It has a warmth that is sadly lacking in a lot of jazz these days.
The album closes with the Jules Styne classic, “The Party’s Over”. There is something eminently appropriate about hearing this song performed by a small group. The song is about the bittersweet feeling after a good party has wound down, and the trio is the best personification of that theme. Most of the time, the rhythm section does heavy lifting anyway, and that fact is all the more evident when the rhythm section is all you have to begin with. 🙂
Geoff Lapp is my friend, and this is his music. From the first song to the last, I love it all, and I can tell you without a qualm that “Stained Glass” by the Geoff Lapp Trio will make an outstanding addition to your personal playlist, for a Saturday or any other night!
To learn more about Geoff Lapp and his music, you can visit him online here, here, and here. He is also on Twitter (@GeoffLappTrio), although he hasn’t posted there recently.
His music is available for purchase or legal download at the usual places.
Yahoo! Maps shows the distance, Portland to Montreal:
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Copyright © 2012 by Al Evans. All rights reserved.