Ethan Iverson | Technically Acceptable Review


Ethan Iverson | Technically Acceptable Review

by Darnell Jackson

Ethan-Iverson-5-Finger-Review-CDEthan Iverson’s latest Blue Note offering, Technically Acceptable, brings his consummate skill and imaginative vision to a thirteen-song set. Iverson is known for his daring approach to jazz, and this album continues this trend.

Contained within Technically Acceptable are two trios, each bringing its unique chemistry and contributing to the album’s rich palette of sounds. The trio of Iverson, Thomas Morgan on bass, and Kush Abadey on drums commences the journey with “Conundrum,” a piece that immediately sets the tone with its intricate rhythms, band hits, and harmonic rhythm, wrapped in a melody that’s joyful and dramatic. This piece, along with the subsequent tracks, showcases Iverson’s adeptness at bridging eras, drawing inspiration from the likes of Dave Brubeck in “Victory is Assured (Alla Breve)”—a track that lightens the atmosphere with its playful, rhythmic undercurrent reminiscent of Kansas City blues.

The title track, “Technically Acceptable,” is a quintessential hard-bop number that swings gracefully and easily belies the complexity of its underlying structure. Iverson’s playing here is straightforward in its clarity and invention, his lines weaving through the rhythm section with an infectious joy. “It’s Fine to Decline” and “The Way Things Are” further illustrate the trio’s range, shifting gears into more avant-garde territories while maintaining a grounded, emotive core.

The album’s latter part introduces a second trio, featuring Simón Wilson on bass and Vinnie Sperrazza on drums,Ethan-Iverson-1 offering fresh interpretations of standards like “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and Thelonious Monk’s “Round Midnight.” The inclusion of Rob Schwimmer’s theremin on “Round Midnight” adds an avant-garde quality to the album’s second half. “The Feeling is Mutual” has a classical overtone, and the trio digs into space and beauty, showing the broad command of their instruments and understanding.

A standout moment is the album’s conclusion with a solo piano sonata in three movements, a testament to Iverson’s virtuosity and compositional prowess. From the blues-inflected “Allegro Moderato” to the contemplative “Andante” and the dynamically varied “Rondo,” Iverson embarks on a solo voyage that encapsulates the album’s spirit of innovation, jazz, and classical while being rooted in tradition.

Ethan-Iverson-2Technically Acceptable is a jazz narrative worthy of your exploration in its expression, its tracks weaving together elements of musical ingenuity and stylistic depth. The album’s significance lies in its technical excellence and emotional resonance, offering a journey that is as intellectually stimulating as it is moving.


Technically Acceptable

Release Date: January 19, 2024

Label: Blue Note Records

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Darnell Jackson

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