Gerard Hagen Trio | Song for Leslie

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Song for Leslie

by Gerard Hagen Trio

This is music that comes from 17 years of friendship and performing and recording as a trio. A musical farewell until the next time...
Genre: Jazz: Piano Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. My Romance
8:54 $0.99
2. A Weaver of Dreams
6:55 $0.99
3. What Is This Thing Called Love?
5:54 $0.99
4. Song for Leslie
8:21 $0.99
5. Where's Gerard
8:44 $0.99
6. Looking At the Despair Calendar
7:25 $0.99
7. 464 Blues
4:46 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Back in 1995 Jerry Kalaf subbed for the drummer on a club date I had booked. That
was when he and I first talked of forming a trio. The idea was that in order to create
music from a deeper, more seasoned, place than many jazz groups which, due to the
economics of our industry, rarely have the opportunity develop their music over long
periods of time, we would commit to working in a jazz group that would exist for the long
haul. We both felt the trio format gave us the best opportunity both musically and
logistically to function as a working unit for an extended period of time. Jerry suggested
I invite bassist Domenic Genova and after a few playing sessions the group was
formed. Incredibly it’s now seventeen years later!
“Song For Leslie” is the result of my desire to document my trio one more time before
my wife, jazz vocalist Leslie Lewis, and I leave Los Angeles for Europe. Previously the
trio had recorded two CD’s “Far Horizons” (Resurgent Music 1998) and “Stay
Tuned” (Sea Breeze Jazz 2000). In 2005 I began working as Leslie’s music director
and naturally I have used the trio as the rhythm section for her performances and
recordings. As musical desires and budgets allowed, the group was augmented with
horn soloists and horn sections. Leslie and these groups made three great recordings of
which I am very proud (“Of Two Minds” 2008, “Keeper Of The Flame” 2010,
“Midnight Sun” 2012) all on a label we founded called SURF COVE JAZZ. During this time my trio continued to perform but we did not
record as an instrumental unit. “Song For Leslie” was an opportunity to document
some original music Jerry and I had written as well as make a snapshot of where this
group is after these many years of working together.
“464 Blues” is a line I wrote which has two phrases that end up in 6/4 time. I was also
experimenting with some alternate blues changes. “Song For Leslie” is a composition
I wrote to be performed at our wedding as a surprise for Leslie. It replaced a song she
really liked and wanted performed so I was very nervous that she would like my piece at
least as much as what she had expected to hear. Jerry is a very accomplished
composer and arranger. Over the years he has written many tunes that have ended up
in our book. I have often joked that we are doing a Jerry Kalaf Memorial Set as I call his
tunes back to back on our gigs. He contributed “Where’s Gerard?” a very nice waltz
inspired by a change of residence I went through and “Looking At The Despair
Calendar” a very poignant ballad that has one of the most interesting bridges I've
All musicians find standards that they love to play and never seem to tire of. We
recorded some of my favorites to go along with our originals. "My Romance" is done in
3 with some solo space added to the form. "A Weaver Of Dreams" has a great set of
changes that offer all kinds of musical opportunities. "What Is This Thing Called
Love?" is a vehicle for Domenic to show his melodic sensibilities. Among his many
talents Domenic is a very good accompanist. He finds ways to fill in the spaces and still
leaves room for the music to breathe.
This recording is a way for my friends and I to both say a musical goodbye and have a
celebration of a great musical journey. Although after all these years, it really isn’t so
much a goodbye as an opportunity to see what will happen next. Until then...

Gerard Hagen Trio: Song For Leslie.
Jazz Music: C.J. Bond

Year: 2012

Style: Jazz Instrumental

Label: Surf Cove Jazz

Musicians: Gerard Hagen - piano; Domenic Genova - bass; Jerry Kalaf - drums.

CD Review: When last heard, Gerard Hagen and his trio were providing excellent backing for his talented wife, song stylist, Leslie Lewis, on her outstanding CD: Leslie Lewis with the Gerard Hagen Trio: Midnight Sun (Surf Cove Music, 2012). We learned then that Hagen's pianism could be 'measured, thoughtful, and logical,' and that the influence of pianists Tommy Flanagan and Bill Evans informed his 'exceptional melodic swing, harmonic sophistication, and bluesy inventions.' ( Well, nothing has changed! Except the mission; revealed in the CD's title: Gerard Hagen Trio: Song For Leslie. It seems quite natural, under the circumstances, that Hagen would embark on this poignant tribute inspired by a declarative, unambiguous lyric: "My romance doesn't have to have a moon in the sky/My romance doesn't need a blue lagoon standing by" (My Romance; Richard Rogers & Lorenz Hart: 1935).

This mission is afforded credibility by Hagen's formidable musical pedigree (Bachelor and Master's degrees in Music; associate professor of jazz piano at Saddleback College in southern California), and given enormous lift by his substantial artistic coinage (His recordings have received critical acclaim in L.A. Times, L.A. Jazz Scene, Jazz Improv Magazine, Cadence Magazine, All About Jazz, All Music Guide And others). In the final analysis however, it is about love: one of the most basic human emotions. Indescribable. Euphoric. Powerful. Even though Hagen is quoted as saying  Song For Leslie, "was an opportunity to document some original music Jerry (Kalaf) and I had written as well as make a snapshot of where this group is after these many years of working together." What feeds love is music, or so thought William Shakespeare: "If music be the food of love, play on./Give me excess of it..." (Duke Orsino of Illyria: Twelfth Night). So Hagen plays on....

Turning to Jack Elliot & Victor Young's (A Weaver Of Dreams), Hagen imbues his instrumental interpretation with the melodic swing and harmonic sophistication that is his wont. Jerry Kalaf displays a fine sense of mood and timing, with impeccable brush work, underscoring the truth that the trio can bring a feeling of intimacy and presence to jazz like no other aggregation; and this trio is exceptional.

Gerard and LeslieCole Porter's music seems to lend itself naturally to jazz, and many of his compositions have become jazz standards, with notable performances from many celebrated jazz singers, orchestras and musicians: Ella Fitzgerald - Night And Day; Artie Shaw Orchestra - Begin The Beguine; Miles Davis Quintet 1958 - Love For Sale; Nat Cole - Just One Of Those Things; Billy Eckstine - In The Still Of The Night; Bill Evans/Jim Hall - I've Got You Under My Skin, to name just a few. Cole Porter's music stands tall in the pantheon of popular music. Following in this tradition, Hagen extends the 'love' motif, reprising Cole Porter's 1929 popular song (What Is This Thing Called Love); a song whose chord progressions have formed the basis of jazz compositions by Tadd Dameron, Fats Navarro, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus. Bassist Domenic Genova opening solo is deeply melodic and creates an emphatic harmonic root off which Hagen's chord selections, and Kalaf's rhythmic innovations develop the tune's natural, ingrained swing.

Hagen puts his prodigious composing talent on display for the centerpiece, and title track (Song For Leslie). A slightly angular piano passage opens the piece that flares into a thematic statement, building tension and force, that is released into a graceful, singing, melodic line, and inventive improvisation, with an architecture reminiscent of that of the late pianist William John "Bill" Evans. Hagen demonstrates wit, congruity, and penetrating discernment in his composing skills with a reprise of the initial thematic statement which he builds into a tense, satisfying climax to end the piece.

An exploration of the composing thought processes of bassist Jerry Kalaf (Where's Gerard?) reveals striking similarities to Hagen's approach. What emerges is thoughtful, lucid, and coherent, no doubt a consummation of 'these many years working together' (Hagen). Kalaf's other offering (Looking At The Despair Calendar) is intimate and tailored for the rhythmically independent style that is another of Hagen's dominant strengths. These two tunes bring a warm aesthetic balance to the date, and further affirm the 'motif' of caring, association, compassion, love, and celebration.

Those music enthusiasts drawn to jazz in the trio format, will do well to add Gerard Hagen Trio: Song For Leslie to their jazz music collection.

Track Listing: My Romance; A Weaver Of Dreams; What Is This Thing Called Love; A Song For Leslie; Where's Gerard?; Looking At The Despair Calendar; 464 Blues.



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