More than ten years after he released his last record, jazz pianist Todd Cochran will officially return Friday with a new album. The record, Then and Again, Here and Now, is a 15-song compilation of jazz standards that most jazz fans will find interesting and worth hearing at least once. That is proven in large part through the liner notes featured in the record’s packaging. It will be discussed shortly. The arrangements performed by Cochran and his fellow musicians tie directly into the liner notes and their importance. They will be discussed a little later. The sequencing of the noted performances rounds out the most important of the record’s elements. When it is considered along with the other noted items, the whole makes Then and Again, Here and Now a positive return for Cochran and a presentation that even being a covers set, is still worth hearing at least once.
Todd Cochrane’s forthcoming covers compilation, Then and Again, Here and Now is a presentation that most audiences will agree is a welcome return for the jazz pianist. That is proven in part through the record’s liner notes. The liner notes in question serve as a solid starting point for the overall listening experience. They explain how the compilation came to be in Cochran’s own words. He explains right from the outset, the songs that are featured in this collection were chosen deliberately. He points out that they are works connected to certain periods in his life and certain events therein. What’s more, Cochran points out in the liner notes some background on at least a few of the covers that are featured herein. That added background makes for added interest in said songs, and even the other songs. That is even without background. As if all of the background that Cochran offers in the liner notes is not enough, he also waxes philosophical in the liner notes about the role of music as a cultural connector for the world. That discussion and the discussions that it is sure to create show even more, the importance of the compilation’s liner notes.
While the liner notes featured in Cochran’s new collection are unquestionably important to the record’s presentation, they are only a portion of what makes the record worth hearing. As pointed out already, Cochran offers background on some of the covers that he features in his record in its liner notes. One of those songs is ‘Foggy Day in London.’ Originally composed by George and Ira Gershwin, Cochran explains that the song made him think of his time living in London and in San Francisco. It goes without saying that Cochran and company’s rendition of the 1937 standard is quite different from that original. The original is a light, upbeat composition from beginning to end. By comparison, Cochran’s rendition is split into two “movements,” the first being a subdued composition, while the second is more upbeat and along the lines of the brothers Gershwin’s rendition. Cochran pointed out in his liner notes that the changes he made to the originals were intentional. In this case, it is understandable. He and his fellow musicians make it an almost original work. That first movement does well to conjure thoughts of Cochran’s time in London while the second movement does just as well to create thoughts of fog-filled streets in San Francisco. The whole is such an interesting take on the Gershwins’ original work.
‘Don’t Get Around Much Anymore’ originally composed by Duke Ellington, is another of the songs that Cochran addresses in the liner notes. He points out of his take here, he was only 13 when he first heard Ellington and his big band live. Cochran adds that at the time, he was still learning about the vast world that is jazz. Understanding this, one can understand the toned down but still so enjoyable solo performance of the Ellington standard. The gentle tones that Cochran produces in the chords that he uses throughout the song give a unique dissonance that actually works alongside the more familiar sound of the original. The juxtaposition of that original content and Cochran’s reserved update shows even more, the importance of the performances featured throughout the record.
‘Bemsha Swing’ is yet another song that Cochran addresses in the album’s liner notes. The performance that Cochran and company present here is yet another example of the importance of the featured performances. The performance by Cochran and company is about as far from Thelonius Monk’s original as could be. That is not necessarily a bad thing, either. As Cochran pointed out here, It was Monk’s “outlier” status during Cochran’s younger years that drew him to Monk in the first place. He always respected Monk’s willingness to “pursue the music he heard in his head.” That is exactly what Cochran and his fellow musicians do here. They follow the music in their heads, presenting a wonderful improv style performance that still stays at least somewhat true to its source material. It is just one more prime example of what makes the record’s featured performances so important to the album’s presentation. When this performance, the others examined here, and the rest of those featured in the record are considered together, the whole enhances the listening experience even more. That is especially when they are considered along with the background information featured in the record’s liner notes.
Having examined the liner notes and actual content featured in Then and Again, Here and Now, that content does much to make this compilation worth hearing. It is only a portion of what makes the record engaging and entertaining. The sequencing of that content rounds out its most important elements. It is important because it takes into account the energies in each arrangement. A close listen shows that from one song to the next, the arrangements’ energies do rise and fall. At the same time though, the record remains relatively subdued and relaxed within each arrangement. That is the case even in the slightly more upbeat works. Cochran and company exhibit a certain control even in those instances. The result of the attention paid to the record’s energies is that they ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment (again thanks to the sequencing) just as much as the content itself. All things considered, the content and the sequencing make Cochran’s new covers collection a record that is worth hearing, even being a covers collection.
Todd Cochran’s first new record in more than a decade is a presentation that audiences will find an interesting work. That is because it is essentially a covers compilation. Even being a group of covers, it still offers audiences something to appreciate, not the least of which being its liner notes. The liner notes, which are encouraged to be read first, set the groundwork for the collection. They offer insight into how the collection came into being and how Cochran came to create the covers in question. Speaking of those covers, the performances thereof create their own interest. That is because of the balance in original and new content featured in each performance. The sequencing of the performances balances each song’s energy, ensuring even more, audiences’ engagement and entertainment. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the compilation. All things considered, they make the record worth experiencing at least once. Then and Again, Here and Now is scheduled for release Friday through Sunnyside Communications/Sunnyside Records. More information on the compilation is available along with all of Cochran’s latest news at:
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