People write nice things about Steve Hancoff for a very good reason; he is an amazing musician who, through his ability on the guitar, takes completely unrelated material then turns the pieces into gems for solo guitar. His last Masterclass with this incredible skill, was the conversion of Bach’s Six Suites for Solo ‘Cello into solo guitar scores and in doing so he created a body of work that is outstanding on several fronts.
Earlier in 2020 Hancoff and his wife moved to an artist colony in Israel; in preparation for this move he discovered a previous recording made in 2004 of Duke Ellington works titled The Single Petal of Rose was almost depleted. In listening to the old recording he realised it was worth re-releasing, but first needed to be re-mastered in line with modern technology. Volume II is the end result.
Duke Ellington, although a pianist of note was better known as a band leader in the big band, swing era, a prolific composer of jazz, often with his long-time friend and band member Billy Strayhorn. Ellington was and is still considered as pivotal figure in the Jazz industry.
Recording these historic, much loved, well known and often played pieces written by Ellington, as solo guitar pieces is what could be considered as in many ways a labour of love, one which makes for an interesting and immensely enjoyable listening experience.
For jazz devotee’s this could almost be considered as the perfect, stripped down version of the music as perhaps heard in Ellington’s mind as he was writing the scores. The signature piece The Single Petal Of A Rose was originally written for Renee Diamond in 1959, after a visit to her home; a single petal from a rose had fallen onto the piano, lying there in perfection.
This composition was later included in the suite created in tribute to Queen Elizabeth, known as the The Queen’s Suite and is the only piece ever recorded and released to the public from this body of work. Ellington made only one copy of the Suite, paid for with his own money, then delivered to Buckingham Palace as a gift to the Queen. His interpretation of the piece was that it ‘represented wonder’.
The liner notes with the Album make fantastic reading as the history of each of the eighteen pieces is presented, along with the year of composition. Some of Ellington’s observations at the time, such as in the notes for Hard Way are almost prophetic, when read in context with todays world, almost fifty years later.
Steve Hancoff has, once again with impeccable timing, with the re-release of his 2004 work The Single Petal Of A Rose, offered to the vastly different world of 2020, a wonderful fresh take on traditional jazz which is an absolute delight, as it has been created with passion, attention to fine detail and a love of a wide and varied range of music styles, created in his one of a kind signature style.
|Released||2004 release 2020|