Joey Calderazzo, “Mike’s Song” from Going Home (2015): One Track Mind

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Joey Calderazzo followed late piano greats Don Grolnick and Kenny Kirkland as the preferred keyboardist for Michael Brecker and Branford Marsalis, respectively. Filling in such large shoes wasn’t a problem for the younger Calderazzo, who quickly found a long-term home within bands that, frankly, a lot of jazz musicians would kill to be in.

He’s since proven himself as a composer and bandleader to be reckoned with in his own right, and Going Home is his eighth release going back to the early 90s (there are three more he co-led, including the duet with Marsalis, Songs of Mirth and Melancholy). Released March 31, 2015 from Sunnyside Records, Going Home casts the veteran in a trio backdrop save for a Marsalis cameo, and he uses it well to showcase a potent band rounded out by Orlando le Fleming (bass) and Adam Cruz (drums). This album gets off the ground from exceptional group dynamics and a balanced mixture of standards and superior Calderazzo originals. One of his own penned tunes, “Mike’s Song” is an earnest nod to his fallen boss, Brecker.

With Calderazzo’s strong connection to that great tenorman, no explanation is needed as to who is this ‘Mike’ that the pianist is referencing in the song title. Launching into a catchy, gospel-kissed figure all alone, le Fleming’s accurately bouncing bass and Cruz’s loose swing supplies the right amount of support for Calderazzo’s never-ending energy; he’s always poised to dive right back into the thematic chord changes almost as soon as he completes a go around with them.

The rollicking vibe of the song — following the a capella performance by the leader — traces to a degree Brecker and Grolnick’s Irish jig “Itsbynne Reel,” the first track from the first Brecker album that Calderazzo appeared on, Don’t Try This At Home. Joey Calderazzo may not have been thinking of this particular song when he sat down and conjured up “Mike’s Song,” but the sentiment is about the same. And Mike may not have composed this song, but he would have loved to bring out its soaring spirit and jam all over the changes. This tribute, from someone who knew Brecker and his music up front and personal, keeps Brecker’s spirit alive and strong with nary a single note blown from a horn.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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