Pianist and composer Ethan Iverson expands on his own musical history with his Blue Note debut Every Note is True.
Iverson has championed the rich traditions and evolutions of jazz throughout his career. The Brooklyn-based musician is best known for his role as co-founder of The Bad Plus, playing with the trio for more than 17 years. Since leaving the group in 2017, Iverson has used his departure to pursue different projects and collaborations as a source of continued growth and inspiration. Notable collaborations in this period include Billy Hart, Albert “Tootie” Heath and Tom Harrell, and writing various compositions for orchestra, big band, and the Mark Morris Dance Group.
“I’ve been extraordinarily busy with a lot of projects that try to assess the tradition,” Iverson says. “Playing with Tootie and Billy was almost a reaction against playing with The Bad Plus every night. But I was starting to feel my oats to play that kind of piano again, so I consciously composed a set of attractive tunes that have a bit of a pop influence. It could never be The Bad Plus without Reid and Dave, but some of that bright big piano is back.”
Every Note is True showcases Iverson’s maturation as a composer, and he’s backed by a duo of masterful musicians — bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jack DeJohnette — to help him build upon that growth. Due to the pandemic opening up both of their schedules, Iverson jumped at the chance to set up recording dates with them for the album.
“It’s great to hear Larry and Jack swinging out,” Iverson says. “With the two of them, you don’t need a lot of material. If you bring in something really simple, no more than basic sketches, they’ll take it over and make it sound great. That’s very much in the tradition of those great Blue Note records from the ‘50s and ‘60s, where the tunes are memorable but there aren’t too many notes on a page.”
Every Note is True places the spotlight on Iverson’s formidable composing ability that’s firmly entrenched in traditional harmony while giving enough space for each musician to express themselves in a comfortable variety of pieces. Even though the album was conceived in trying times, the pianist looks back on the experience as a moment of celebration.
“We live in an era where the hot take and the thinkpiece are usually about tearing people down, but I think there should be more room for celebrating that anything good happens at all. In this case, I’m thankful that I get to play with Larry and Jack, and of course thankful for their incredible musicianship. Yes. I want my thanks to be visible.”
Every Note is True is available now via Blue Note Records.
Here’s the track listing:
- The More It Changes
- The Eternal Verities
- She Won’t Forget Me
- For Ellen Raskin
- Goodness Knows
- Had I But Known
- Merely Improbable
- Praise Will Travel
- At the Bells of Motley
Ethan Iverson’s Every Note is True is out now via Blue Note.