Russ Lossing

pianist . composer . improviser

Changes Reviews

Jazz Magazine May 2019  (english translation)

Changes (Steeplechase)

Recorded in trio with Michael Formanek on bass and Gerald Cleaver on drums, "Changes" is the first record that Russ Lossing. pianist associated with the avant-guard and in particular the trombonist Samuel Blaser, dedicates almost entirely to standards.

Among them, five compositions of Monk and Duke Ellington on which are added variations as new as improbable, the ambition of Lossing being "to draw new sound combinations of their intervals to harmonize the melodies". He draws its poetic piano, the salt of his improvisations always very strict. We understand better his passion for the music of Paul Motian to which he has just devoted a second album, and for that of Monk which he interprets Crepuscule With Nellie, Ugly Beauty and Epistrophy, not without folding them to a virtuosity that combines lyricism and abstraction. The great flexibility of his rhythm section allows him to play a piano very free, sprinkle his elegant improvisations of subtle dissonances, unexpected chords. The ballads he approaches are adorned with autumnal colors and vibrate with great gentleness. A magical version of Reflections in D and Prelude to a Kiss by Ellington, a musician he appreciates a lot, Little Girl Blue by Richard Rogers, Sweet and Lovely whom Monk loved to play, are some of the great successes of this opus, the thirteenth that the pianist publishes under his name. We can add Reminiscence, one of the two songs that he composed for this album, a shimmer of blue notes that add a lot of tenderness.

   -Pierre de Chocqueuse

Jazz Magazine May 2019

Changes (Steeplechase)

Enregistré en trio avec Michael Formanek a la contrebasse et Gerald Cleaver a la batterie, "Changes" est le premier disque que Russ Lossing. pianiste associe a l'avent-garde et notamment au tromboniste Samuel Blaser, consacre preque entierement a des standards.

Parmi eux, cinq compositions de Monk et de Duke Ellington sur lesquelles se greffent des variations aussi neuves qu'improbables, L'ambition de Lossing étant de "tirer de nouvelles combinaisons sonores de leurs intervalles pour en harmoniser les melodies", Il en tire sa poétique pianistique, le sel de ses improvisations toujours trés strcturees.  On comprend mieux sa passion pour le musique de Paul Motian a laquelle il vient de consacrer un deuxieme album, et pour celle de Monk dont il interprete Crepuscule With Nellie, Ugly Beauty et Epistrophy, non sans les plier a une virtuosite qui fait cohabiter lyrisme et abstraction. La grande souplesse de sa section rythmique lui permet de jouer un piano tres libre, de saupoudrer ses improvisations elegantes de dissonances subtiles, d'accords inattendus.  Les ballades qu'il aborde se parent de couleurs automnales et vibrent d'une grande douceur.  Une version féérique de Reflections in D et Prelude to a Kiss d'Ellington, musicien qu'il apprecie beaucoup, Little Girl Blue de Richard Rogers, Sweet and Lovely que Monk aimait jouer, comptent parmi les grandes reussites de cet opus, le treizieme que le pianiste publie sous son nom.  On peut y ajouter Reminiscence, l'un des deux morceaux qu'il a composes pour cet album, un chatoiement de notes bleues que leste un grand poids de tendresse.

-Pierre de Chocqueuse

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feb. 2, 2019

Russ Lossing’s career is centered on writing and playing his own music, but he’s intermittently addressed our ever-growing jazz canon with the kind of insight that can only be honed by decades of improvising. Check the pianist’s takes on Sonny Rollins’ “Pent Up House,” Andrew Hill’s “Awake,” or Paul Motian’s “Dance” for a clear view of how the work of others can be keenly renovated. Particularly memorable is a 2004 lilt through Charlie Parker’s “Dexterity” with a forlorn attitude that nonetheless allows room for a boppish patina honoring Bird’s frenetic contours. On this new trio date, Lossing dedicates the bulk of the program to covers of well-known titles, and his refractions are both shrewd and inviting.

Including three Monks, two Dukes, a few standards, and an original that sounds like it could be clipped from some overlooked Powell or Pullen book, Changes uses mainstream fare to provide the leader and his rhythm section of Michael Formanek and Gerald Cleaver enough leeway to nurture new elements from the melodies and twist the rhythms toward locales where overt swing makes hay with looser elaborations. Like those of Tom Rainey’s Obbligato outfit, Lossing’s bend-and-stretch inversions are cagey enough to keep listeners guessing while delivering the comforts of familiarity.

Ellington cast a bittersweet mood with “Reflections in D,” and the trio milks its dreamy atmosphere with a wealth of nuance. “Epistrophy” gallops and glides; “Bye Bye Blackbird” waxes wooly but resolves refined; “Little Girl Blue” sanctions a handful of harmonic idiosyncrasies. The trio sounds more mature than this debut date should be—there’s an immersive quality to the music. As Changes spills forward, we learn about the artists’ vision as well as the pliability of the material the trio has chosen.

-Jim Macnie

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May 27, 2019

Here’s some nourishing refreshment, and it comes from a piano, bass and drums trio which, while working broadly within a continuum defined by Paul Bley and Bill Evans, carves out distinctive territory of its own.

The point’s made in no uncertain terms on Ellington’s Reflections In D where the music ebbs and flows according to the demands of the moment even while the tiresome exhibitionism which marks so much new music is diligently avoided.

In such deft hands, and I’m thinking of Cleaver’s unexpected yet always apposite work in particular here, Monk’s Ugly Beauty becomes a thing of understated elegance, so much so in fact that the second word of the title is by far the greater emphasised.

The same composer’s Crepuscule With Nellie is rendered rich in nuance, and to the point where the opacity of the writing is leavened with appreciation for the opportunities that writing offers for something other than mere blowing.

... it’s ultimately a pleasure to encounter a musician whose influences are well below the surface, as best exemplified by his admirable understatement over Formanek’s idiosyncratic lope on Sweet And Lovely, resulting in another performance in which the obvious is effortlessly dodged.

-Nic Jones

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