Ebony & Ivory
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Ebony & Ivory

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"Ebony & Ivory: Red Hot! (muzikman)"

I hardly know where to start with this comprehensive recording. Over 71 minutes of pure jazz and absolute musical bliss are unearthed amongst the 19 tracks on Red Hot. This ambitious project from Ebony & Ivory, a marvelously talented group of musicians that came together to give us this magical treat for the ears, cover contemporary, classical, bluegrass, ragtime, Latin, nearly every genre, subgenre, or fusion thereof, and they are all instrumental delights.

Each individual track develops its own personality and life rather quickly on this CD. Andrew Gilpin, an incredibly talented piano man that takes his instrument to new levels of attainment while creating a solid foundation; he plants a seed that blossoms with the other members of the band, bringing them to heights most musicians can only hope for in a session. Fred Jacobowitz turns in a stunning effort with superior clarinet and saxophone playing, complementing Gilpin most beautifully. The rest of the band members are no slouches at their positions either. This overflowing wealth of talent submerges itself in the music. The broad spectrum of colors and flavors of jazz are engaged in a succinct and positive way. It is comparable to a coffee bean releasing its essential oils then you can smell the wonderful flavor of it all as it brews. There definitely is something brewing here, without uttering a word, Ebony & Ivory communicate a world of culture and atmosphere, which is not always the easiest thing to do in the studio.

Nineteen tracks is a lot of music and to single out any one tune would be unfair when each one stands on its own as a singular work of art. In other words, every track is good, what else is there to say? If you love jazz this CD is a necessary addition to your collection. - Keith

"Concert was stylistically strong"

Andrew Gilpin, piano, and Fred Jacobowitz, clarinet, teamed up Saturday at the Olean High School auditorium to present a stylistically varied concert as Ebony and Ivory.

From the opening number, "Feast," by Bill Douglas, to the encore, "Summertime," by George Gershwin, the two performers acquitted themselves well in every respect.

The program was the second of five in the Friends of Good Music 2003-04 Concert Series.

The programming itself was nicely done, providing the audience opportunities to hear each artist featured as soloist for a piece as well as providing ensemble works.

In the former category, Mr. Jacobowitz delighted attendees with two Benny Goodman songs so well played as to be breathtaking. His fingers were incredibly fast and each note was produced with an astounding clarity. His style was impeccable and resulted in a rambunctious romp through the '40s which the audience happily soaked up.

Mr. Jacobowitz also performed on the E-flat clarinet as well as the alto saxophone. "Rag" by William Bolcom was especially written for the E-flat clarinet and was exceptionally well done by Mr. Jacobowitz.

It was impossible to tell the sound of the E flat horn from that of the regular, larger, B flat clarinet. Hats off to the artist for producing a beautifully rounded and full sound on an instrument that usually sounds thin and has intonation problems in the upper register.

The Piece with alto sax, "Dreams of You" by Dave McGarry, was performed with Mr. Gilpin playing his Korg keyboard. The sound was smooth and reminiscent of some numbers recorded by Kenny G. Noteworthy also was "Chassidic Dance" by Abraham Ellstein. This Klezmer song was well done by Mr. Jacobowitz.

Mr. Gilpin had his own turns at bat with two sets of solo works for piano alone. On the first half of the program he played three arrangements by Cy Walter, "Moon River," "Clap Yo' Hands" and "Heart and Soul," which showed how endlessly inventive jazz arrangers can be. The three pieces featured sweet roulades up to the top of the piano and really adventurous harmonies that stretched the fabric of the songs without breaking them.

The trio of Scott Joplin rags that Mr. Gilpin played on the second half of the program, "Maple Leaf Rag," "Solace" and "Magnetic Rag," were all played with a sentimentally light touch that Mr. Joplin himself was known to favor.

Maple Leaf Rag is usually pounded through by anyone with technique enough to play it without much regard for the fine compositional features that make the piece so nice to listen to when done in the true Joplin fashion. It was a real pleasure to hear the three so nicely done.

The finest performance of the concert came near the beginning with a truly fine rendition of the Poulenc "Clarinet Sonata." The piece requires the finest coordination between the pianist and the clarinetist in many tricky passages.

It requires precise tonal control from both artists in passages of the softest transcendent beauty. The clarinetist must produce a penetrating pianissimo for much of the second movement while the pianist shifts the chordal structure constantly around him.

Both artists were well up to the demands of this well-known work and produced an unforgettable performance in which Poulenc himself was the main attraction.
- Richard Snyder, Olean Times Herald

"Ebony and Ivory treat audience"

Cornwall and district music lovers were treated to a kaleidoscope of sounds, musical styles, and original works, on Saturday evening at Aultsville Theatre.

Two fine and talented artists, Andrew Gilpin and Fred Jacobowitz performed an eclectic program, borrowed from the classics, folk, ragtime, jazz, pops, on a variety of instruments which included the piano, two keyboards, clarinets, and saxophone. They are known as Ebony and Ivory, ebony representing the clarinet family of instruments and ivory, as the white keys of the piano. They transported us from the concert hall, to the cabarets and nightclubs of New York and other large cities.

Concert Series organizer, Sylvia Whitaker brought in her usual bit of humour and colour, "burgundy" as she welcomed the packed audience. Her greetings set the tone for an evening of fun and fine entertainment.

The program opened with Feast by Bill Douglas, a light and somewhat whimsical piece with syncopated rhythms, played on clarinet and keyboard.

It was followed by the three movements of an original work by Andrew Gilpin, the Sonata for Clarinet and Piano. This is a beautiful composition, with varying rhythms and styles, and a Spanish flavour. The dialogue between the piano and clarinet was interesting and effective.

Jacobowitz introduced The Chassidic Dance of Abraham Ellstein, a composition of Jewish inspiration, with typical folk and Klezmer dance style, alternating with a magical lyrical section. Jacobowitz explained that much great music of the Eastern European Jews was destroyed during the Third Reich. Fortunately, this piece was preserved, and the audience was treated to a masterful and inspirational interpretation of the work.

From Jewish inspiration, the two artists brought us to the French modern and slightly dissonant idiom of Francis Poulenc. The three movement Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, written in 1962, was at times lyrical and at other moments quite fast-paced, bringing out the "Allegro tristamente" of the work. The sensitive phrasing and interesting dynamics made for great listening.

Then came the cabaret portion of the evening with works from Henry Mancini, George Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael, performed solo by pianist Andrew Gilpin. The tricky and innovative arrangements by Cy Walter featured Moon River, Clap Yo' Hands and Heart and Soul. Gilpin is obviously quite at home with this informal music.

A change of instruments brought variety to the program. Dreams of You by Dave McGarry was performed on keyboard and saxophone, and Rag (from Four Dances) by William Bolcom featuring the Eb baby clarinet, made for great entertainment. A highlight was Leonard Bernstein's America from West Side Story. The intricacy of the music was made even more fascinating by the constant change of instruments - two clarinets and a saxophone. It certainly displayed Jacobowitz's versatility.

Minority, a very rhythmic composition of Andrew Gilpin featured a portable keyboard.

The second and third movements from a Sonatina by Joseph Horowitz were absolutely mesmerizing. The beautiful phrasing, the sensitive and warm playing on the clarinet in the second movement was followed by a captivating jazz style, all ending with an effective crescendo. Horovitz was born in Vienna in 1926, but emigrated to England during early adolescence.

Then a return to ragtime and jazz. Ragtime brings forth the name of Scott Joplin, whose father was a former slave and plantation fiddler, and his mother a singer. Joplin dedicated his life to preserving and promoting an understanding of ragtime music. Gilpin certainly gave a befitting tribute to Joplin in his solo performances of Maple Leaf Rag, Solace and Magnetic Rag.

The clarinet is naturally associated with the name of Benny Goodman. Imaginations were carried away to sophisticated nightclubs, through the delightful performances of Clarinet a la King, A Smooth One and Benjie's Bubble.

Andrew Gilpin's talents as a composer shone through his Aes Sedai, a beautiful composition inspired by Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time. With such unusual abilities as a pianist, composer and arranger, this young musician is sure to go places.

The favourite, technically demanding Tico Tico of Don Marcotte & Zequinha Abreu, creatively arranged by Gilpin, brought the program to a close. The standing ovation of the audience brought a heart-warming rendition of Summertime by Gershwin. - Jeannine Roy-Poirier, Cornwall Standard-Freeholder

"Concert association opens season with piano and clarinet"

Two fabulous musicians opened the season for the Peterborough Concert Association at Showplace with a delightful and entertaining program of music for piano and clarinet.

Andrew Gilpin played not only the piano, but also the Korg Triton Pro-X and the Roland AX-1 electronic keyboards, the latter being a stunning red and white portable; and Fred Jacobowitz, not only the B flat clarinet, but also the E flat clarinet and the alto saxophone, both players moving from one to the other with equal skill and ease.

The program was billed Ebony and Ivory, obviously relating to the main instruments they played, and it was a program skillfully planned with a wonderful mix of familiar and unfamiliar works. Both players have a wide range of musical backgrounds, from classical to jazz to pop and much more. Their presentation was informal, humourous, appealing to the unfortunately small audience.

Born in Edmonton, Gilpin completely self-taught at the piano, composed or arranged many of the numbers performed and his skill at the keyboard is amazing, as is the wealth of unique, musical ideas in his compositions.

Jacobowitz received his Bachelor of Music from the Juilliard School, with his debut taking place at Carnegie Hall.

Blue Grass and Green Sky, by Gilpin, a bright, jazzy, opening number, contained some taped percussion rhythms. Three movements of Spanish Suite, also by Gilpin, followed, with lovely Latin melodies, ending with an energetic Ole! An amazing performance by Jacobowitz of the Chassidic Dance, by Abraham Ellstein, was one of only a few works by Jewish composers which survived the Second World War - a fascinating piece.

Jacobowitz performed the beautiful Dreams Of You by the English composer, Dave McGarry. The first half ended with an amazing setting by Gilpin of Bernstein's America from West Side Story, Jacobowitz shifting between B flat and E flat clarinets and sax.

In the last half both players formed a trio with the pre-programmed Korg in Minority by Gilpin, once again showing their amazing skill and the wealth of musical ideas.

Three Scott Joplin rags were beautifully and delicately played by Gilpin, and three Benny Goodman tunes featured Jacobowitz on the clarinet, great performances all.

The lovely, gentle melody on the clarinet in Aes Sedai, over running accompaniment on the piano, was also by Gilpin, and their program ended with his amazing and brilliant version of Tico Tico. In response to the audience's applause, they played a very classy arrangement of Gershwin's Summertime. - Barb Scott, The Peterborough Examiner

"Ebony & Ivory: Red Hot! (jazzreview.com)"

Here's something really different. Ebony & Ivory is clarinetist Fred Jacobowitz and keyboardist Andrew Gilpin. The international duo (US and Canada) entertain all over North America. This CD is compiled from Toronto, Nashville, Los Angeles and New York sessions. As this review is typed, Ebony & Ivory finished the taping of a television show for Ontario's TVO network. Then they are off to St. Petersburg, Florida for a concert at the Museum Of Fine Arts.

The musicians do not claim that Red Hot! is a jazz album. There aren't enough pigeonholes on anyone's desk to classify the project. Gilpin and Jacobowitz are truly skilled musicians and play in multiple genres. You'll hear classical, ethnic, jazz, pop swing and some beautifully executed ragtime.

Jazz fans will particularly enjoy the three items closely associated with the Benny Goodman small groups in the 1939-40 Charlie Christian period. While the duo successfully captures the spirit Goodman Sextet's music, Gilpin and Jacobowitz make no attempt to sound like Johnny Guarnieri and the King of Swing. The tracks benefit from some rhythm work by Tom Hazlitt and Wilson Laurencin.

The ragtime pieces are both from the pen of Scott Joplin, Maple Leaf Rag and the fascinating Solace (A Mexican Serenade). Both rags are perfectly played in classic ragtime tradition. Andrew Gilpin gets full marks.

The balance of the eclectic album is exactly that, eclectic. It's a light-hearted and enthusiastic romp through a gumbo of unrelated genres from Hoagy Carmichael's Heart And Soul to the Hebrew Chassidic Dance. This reviewer loved Sonatina written by the contemporary classical composer Joseph Horowitz. It's a tiny gem lasting only three minutes.

A high percentage of jazz enthusiasts will appreciate the music of this fine duo and their guests. You can hear samples on the artists' website.
- Richard Bourcier, jazzreview.com


Debut CD: "Red Hot!" - released 2004


Feeling a bit camera shy


Ebony & Ivory plays a wide variety of music, including light classical, Gershwin, folk, ragtime, Benny Goodman, jazz, popular, classical, and original compositions. With an astonishing array of instruments (saxophone, multiple clarinets, piano, and state-of-the-art Korg Triton proX and Roland AX-1 keyboards,) these multi-instrumentalists create an ever-changing palette of sound. In addition, Fred’s engaging commentary and Andrew’s beautiful original works entertain every audience, and always leave them wanting more. The optional addition of bass and percussion will be sure to fill even the largest venue!
Few musical groups encompass Ebony & Ivory’s wide variety of repertoire, and fewer still have their ease with diverse musical styles. While most musicians would be content to describe themselves as strictly "classical," "jazz" or "new age," Fred and Andrew ignore these arbitrary boundaries and simply look for the appeal and intrinsic value in each piece of music.