Thursday, October 8, 2015

USA/CANADA: Pianist/Vocalist Ariel Pocock Releases Uniquely Versatile Debut, Touchstone

Justin Time

Pianist/Vocalist Ariel Pocock Releases 
Uniquely Versatile Debut, Touchstone 
Available September 4 via Justin Time Records 

At 22-years-old, Ariel Pocock has received international acclaim as a captivating jazz pianist, vocalist, and composer. Recognized by notable institutions such as Downbeat, the Kobe-Seattle International Jazz Vocal Competition and the Essentially Ellington Competition at Lincoln Center, where she won both the outstanding pianist award as well as the Ella Fitzgerald Outstanding Vocalist Award. Pocock is steadily gaining momentum as a uniquely gifted and versatile musician with both her "true facility for...sinewy jazz piano [and] breezy, achingly plain-spoken vocal chops..." (Seattle Times).
Touchstone, Pocock's debut album features fresh takes on classic jazz standards, original compositions, and her own arrangements of singer-songwriter material. She worked with producer Matt Pierson to compile this interesting mix of songs.  The inclusion of some of her favorite jazz standards like "Devil May Care," "Exactly Like You," and "Ugly Beauty" as well as some of the singer-songwriter material are a glimpse into the music Pocock loves as a musician.
Although the music is diverse by category, it is tied together with the distinctive playing and vocal style that Pocock exudes. 
Pocock is not the only musician that shines on Touchstone. The featured musicians include saxophonist Seamus Blake, guitarist Julian Lage, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Eric Harland.  This all-star band also helped shape the reflective and meditative feel to the album as well. Although this particular group of musicians had never played together, the communication and musical dialogue on this album is apparent from its onset. With some of the arrangements being improvised in-studio with all the musicians contributing ideas and crafting parts, it is easy to tell that all the musicians believed in communicating Pocock's love for the songs.
   Photo Credit: Christopher Drukker
On teaming with such a great lineup of musicians Pocock states, "Working with Larry, Eric, Julian, and Seamus was incredible. They are truly some of my favorite musicians alive today. I've looked up to them all for years and it was quite surreal getting the opportunity to actually record with them. I arrived at the studio on the first day with some fairly serious nerves, but after meeting the band and showing them my ideas for the recording, I was totally at ease and so excited to get started."   
Jazz critic Paul DeBarros described the album as containing "the mysterious mixology of Thelonious Monk, the clear springs of Keith Jarrett, and Bill Evans' oceanic yearning." This mix represents Pocock's diverse musical influences.  Pocock's original compositions and songs draw inspiration from a wide array of sources: Cuban and Brazilian folk music, the Great American Songbook, modern jazz composers such as Chick Corea and Brad Mehldau, and songwriters like Joni Mitchell, Randy Newman, and Paul Simon.
"Above all, I genuinely love every song on this album, and I hope that the listener can feel the joy that went into this album. I wanted this album to be an honest snapshot of the music I love and where I am as a musician right now. Touchstone feels organic and introspective to me and I hope that it comes across to the listener."
A captivating performer, Pocock has headlined many notable venues and music festivals, including Ronnie Scott's London Club, Iowa City Jazz Festival, Elkhart Jazz Festival, Twin Cities Jazz Festival, Stanford Jazz Festival, Bellevue Jazz Festival, and in July 2015 had the opportunity to perform at the prestigious Festival International de Jazz de Montréal.
A recent graduate of the University of Miami's Frost School of Music where she studied under the Stamps Family scholarship - Ariel Pocock is based in North Carolina where she continues to compose and maintain an active performing schedule.

Ariel Pocock · Touchstone
Justin Time Records · Release Date: September 4, 2015

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