Vibraphonist Ted Piltzecker had not planned on becoming a vibraphonist at all. Instead, on the way to being the best trumpet player he could be, he stumbled into the vibraphone. Not literally, but a set of “vibes” as he calls them, were left in his dorm room at the Eastman School of Music. Already committed to trumpet, Piltzecker played the vibes in between his stints with the school’s Jazz Ensemble. Years later, that accidental meeting between Piltzecker and the vibraphone comes to bear on the album “Brindica.”
The album makes good use of rhythms from Ghana, Argentina, Brazil. The songs have aa classic, lived-in, yet still relevant feel. Of particular interest is the moody, but dynamic “What Happens To a Dream Deferred?” which uses the words of Langston Hughes’ famous poem for its lyrics. The vocals are provided by Taylor Burgess, who has a beautiful, smooth tone and a range that gives life to the various questions and possible answers provided by the poem’s lines.
The instrumentation behind Burgess shimmers and bomps softly, but is by no means monolithic. Listeners can hear the vibraphone, drums and other instruments, but they play together softly, and the vocals get the attention. Piltzecker first tried his hand at a version of this song at a music festival in South America. He recalls reciting the poem in English while a translator turned into Spanish. The words seemed to resonate with everyone. According to Piltzecker, “…the poem should be known by all.”
In addition to American poems being made into jazz, Piltzecker also presents the multi-movement, “From the Center.” Listeners might have a difficult time decided if they are more drawn to the cut time section, which might prompt some to dance, still others will love the growling horns of the middle section in 5/4 time, and the punchy 6/8 section will be appreciated by most. The growling horns really aren’t to be missed. As menacing as they can sound in some songs, here they are part of the dynamics and the overall kinetics of the piece.
Piltzecker’s “Brindica” (Brazil India Africa) is a joyous compilation of songs that offer 10 songs for listening, dancing, and even for learning about jazz and the way other genres can influence it. That Piltzecker almost didn’t play the vibraphone is almost inconceivable after hearing his work here. Great music for jazz fans and even non-jazz fans. As Piltzecker’s trajectory has proven, a person never knows what they will discover.