I caught fellow Ottawan and DownBeat contributor D.D. Jackson last night at a taping for the radio program Fuse, which runs nationally on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
The show's concept is to bring together two musicians who have never worked together previously and see what develops, but the musicians are seldom as disparate as Jackson and singer-songwriter Emm Gryner. Although Gryner studied piano as a kid and has a father who's a jazz fan, it seems like a cruel mismatch to pair her with D.D., a classical prodigy who managed the impossible by stepping nimbly from apprenticeship with the fearsome Menachem Pressler to similar status with Don Pullen and Jaki Byard. Still, they found common ground, with Gryner—who played bass in a teenage pop band with her brothers—providing rudimentary bass accompaniment to one of Jackson's gentler compositions, and wordless vocals to his stormy "Final Invocation: Towers Of Light" from his terrific New York Suite CD. Jackson added lush piano fills to several of Gryner's songs, assuming the role of the strings on her latest recording. To finish the program they came up with a powerful arrangement of Neil Young's "Ohio," which played to both their strengths.
Great to see this risky concept executed so effectively.