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World Without Cars

Art Lande & Mark Miller

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Album Review

Pianist Art Lande, fairly well known from a series of albums on ECM, here teams with reed player Mark Miller for an album of generally short, pastoral pieces that tend to have a bit more of an academic than jazz feeling. Lande's style seems perched midway between Bill Evans and early 20th century impressionism (particularly Debussy), but, while his playing is almost always tonal, he is reluctant to commit to actual melodies, leaving the listener a bit frustrated. Miller's soprano saxophone work is somewhat modeled after Steve Lacy, but without the master's bite or sardonic humor; his work on flute and alto is calm and clear (though on "Cars" he ventures into some cathartic free playing), but unremarkable. Sometimes, as on "Sous l'Ombre," it sounds like an all too blatant imitation of Jan Garbarek, with whom Lande had also worked, though the song itself has some nice momentum. Several of the pieces are improvisations (including the unfortunate vocal improv on "Mary Ellen Figment," though none seem to cohere in more than a rudimentary fashion. The highlights of the disc are a short composition by Khabu Doug Young, also with a vocal part (oddly reminiscent of Robert Wyatt) and the final two tracks. Here, the melodies are allowed to simply stand on their own and achieve a natural, almost rustic beauty. World Without Cars would have greatly benefited from more of this trust.

Biography

Born: 1947 in New York, NY

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

An adventurous yet subtle improviser, Art Lande has long been one of the top jazz pianists based in Colorado, which accounts for his regional fame but general lack of notoriety despite his talents and originality. He started having classical lessons when he was four, studied at Williams College, and moved to San Francisco in 1969. Lande, who occasionally played electric piano in the 1970s, has mostly carved out his own singular path throughout his career, taking the innovations of Bill Evans several...
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World Without Cars, Art Lande
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