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It's About Love

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Album Review

It's About Love, an acoustic post-bop date that pianist Bill Cunliffe co-leads with saxman Gary Foster, is subtitled The Music of Reed Kotler. Upon seeing that name, some listeners are bound to ask, "Who is Reed Kotler?" — and the answer is that Kotler is a talented but underexposed jazz composer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Although Kotler isn't well known, Cunliffe and Foster obviously think highly of his work; It's About Love marks the second time the improvisers have devoted an entire album to his compositions. They have good taste; Kotler often writes attractive melodies, and it's nice to see some jazzmen acknowledging a lesser known composer instead of confining themselves to overdone Tin Pan Alley standards that have long since been beaten to death. (Does the jazz world really need 5,000 new recordings of "My Funny Valentine" in the 21st century?) As it turns out, Kotler's melodies are perfect for what Cunliffe and Foster wanted It's About Love to be: an often romantic, generally laid-back and relaxed post-bop album. This 2003 date doesn't focus on ballads exclusively, but it does make lyrical performances a high priority — more often than not, It's About Love celebrates the kinder, gentler side of post-bop. Think of John Coltrane playing "Naima" and "Central Park West," Herbie Hancock doing "Dolphin Dance," or James Williams giving us "Alter Ego"; that's the sort of good-natured vibe that frequently prevails on this CD, which was produced by Cunliffe and Kotler and lists the latter as executive producer. Cunliffe and Foster are joined by bassist Jeff d'Angelo and drummer Tim Pleasant, both of whom do their part to make It's About Love the solid effort that it is.


Born: 26 June 1956 in Lawrence, MA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

One of the more promising pianists based in the L.A. area, Bill Cunliffe has been careful to have each of his recordings display its own personality. He won the 1989 Thelonious Monk jazz piano award, for a time led the fusion band Porcupine, works with Natalie Cole and in the studios, and is a regular member of both the Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra and the Clayton Brothers Quartet. Cunliffe's recordings for Discovery have included A Paul Simon Songbook (on which he turned a dozen of...
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It's About Love, Bill Cunliffe
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