Rosenthal’s Elbow Grease
Bruce Von Stiers
Alan Rosenthal grew up in New York City and studied classical piano. He continued his studies at the University of Chicago. But along the way, Rosenthal began a lifelong relationship with jazz. This relationship has led him to play piano with such greats as Clark Terry. Rosenthal has composed scores for tap musicals and written articles on jazz and classical music for several noted publications.
Last year Rosenthal released and album titled Elbow Grease. It was a follow-up to the well-received album, Just Sayin’.
The press release for Elbow Grease calls it a collaboration of modern jazz with the emphasis on piano. That description matches up with what I heard as I listened to the album. It is a mixture of jazz sounds that lets the music be guided by Rosenthal’s piano playing.
Elbow Grease has nine songs and a play time of fifty-three minutes. All of the songs, except one, were composed by Rosenthal. Recorded at the Trading 8s studio, the album was released on the Street of Stars Records label.
Rosenthal plays piano on all of the songs of the album. There are several artists who play on select songs on the album. On one song, there is a horn section with Alan Chaubert on trumpet, Patience Higgins on tenor sax and Scott Reeves on Trombone. The same song finds Bill Ware on vibes, Brian Glassman on bass and Steve Johns playing the drums. Johns is on drums for another song as well. Actually, Glassman plays bass on several other on the album too. Mike Campenni plays drums on six of the songs. For two of the songs on the album, Peter Brainin plays either the soprano or tenor sax. On those same songs, John Loehrke plays the bass.
The album open with (Preface) Another Sky. It is a short, yet wonderful solo piano piece.
That is followed up by Up The Kazoo. This is the song that I mentioned earlier that has a bunch of musicians playing on it. There is some extremely coo vibe music. And each horn gets a chance to be up front does the piano. It is a fun and smile effecting piece. Oh, and there is a pretty decent bass solo.
Blue J has some waltz movements mixed in with some toe tapping jazz bits. It kind of made me think of Vince Guaraldi a bit.
Drop Me Here has a touch of salsa that helps usher in a really good piano solo.
Guitar Knee is a nice piece that showcases the piano.
Monk Over Marrakesh starts as a light a breezy piece with great sax. Later in the song there is a really nice bass solo followed by a terrific sax solo.
The group does a really good job with their rendition of the Jerome Kern song, They Didn’t Believe Me. The song is another one that showcases the piano.
Dextrously is a fast paced piece with a toe tapping beat. There are several really nice solos in the song.
For the closing song, there is a soft and gentle piece titled Old-Fashioned Valentine. It is primarily a piano piece with light bass and drum.
I really enjoyed Elbow Grease. Rosenthal is a terrific pianist and the compositions on the album did well to spotlight that talent. As did the musicians that he chose to record the album with him.
Elbow Grease is available on most streaming services and retailers such as amazon.
To learn more about Alan Rosenthal, visit his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/a.rosenthal.piano