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I have taught and performed in Rochester, New York for decades, and over these
years I have been privileged to work with a handful of gifted young jazz pianists and
composers from just down the road in Buffalo. Andrew Nixon is one such special talent.
Though still a young man, Andrew has achieved a beautifully unique writing and
playing style - both of which are clearly demonstrated throughout IN CONGRUENCE,
a wonderful debut trio recording featuring two superb sidemen and where all the
compositions are Nixon’s.
The interesting contours and deep emotions heard in Andrew’s brief opening solo
piano “Prelude” deserve repeated listenings. While its musical language stems from
contemporary classical composition, the inspiring grammar of “Prelude” is Nixon’s own.
“7-8-9” is such a fun, relaxed piece! Aptly named for the measure lengths of its three
sections, each time through the form the middle 8 bars (heard ‘in 3’) are played more
quickly than their surrounding sections (‘in 4’) yet all sounds perfectly juxtaposed. After
two initial statements of the melody, each of the three musicians plays interesting and
swinging solos before a single restatement of Andrew’s opening theme. Something
about “7-8-9” seems ingenious, though I’m not sure exactly what? Bravo.
The beautiful “Ruby’s Waltz” is reminiscent of the brilliant original waltzes of Bill Evans,
featuring an interesting AABAC form with an added twist: The trio creatively truncates
Andrew’s two 12-bar B melody sections by 4 bars during the piano and bass
improvisations, thus matching the other 8-bar phrase lengths. Sensitive drumming from
Joe is another highlight throughout.
“Anticipation” very much reminds me of a classic Bud Powell ballad on the order of
“Time Waits” or “I’ll Keep Loving You.” Its memorable melody and smooth harmonies,
followed by graceful improvisations from Andrew and Ed, make me smile every time I
The trio picks up the tempo with the Chick Corea-like “Circulation,” a sophisticated
38-bar approach to the modern jazz waltz. Both Andrew and Ed turn in refined solos.
The unexpected final chord (minor, yet decidedly delightful) reminds me again of Bill
“I’ll Remember Felix” is a medium swing feature for Croft’s superb bass playing, as Ed
plays the first iteration of Andrew’s melody before some highly engaging piano and bass
solos, followed by some very nice trading of 4s with Joe. Just as the piece has ended,
things unexpectedly segue into a 75-second “Incongruence.” Not sure what this is all
about but I find it both provocative and poignant.
While “Blues for Audrey” is technically a 12-bar blues in F, the melodic and harmonic
approach is an oblique one (beginning with Andrew’s beautiful introduction). Also check
out the double-time choruses at the end of the piano and bass solos. Goretti’s drum solo
which follows is superb, before the trio takes it home with one final melody statement.
We jazz pianists have often included chamber music in our repertoire, and not unlike the
opening “Prelude,” “I’ll Keep Trying” is a brief exploration of Andrew’s classical side, this
time an all-notated sensitive trio piece featuring Andrew’s piano, Ed’s arco bass and Joe’s
The program concludes with “Line For Sonny (for Sonny Clark),” Andrew’s relaxed tribute
to the great jazz pianist and composer. The style is very much like Sonny’s - that swinging
hard bop Sonny played so perfectly. But as with the rest of IN CONGRUENCE, each
member of the trio has their own unique take on things, and the result is marvelous.
Every time I get together with Andrew is special, both musically and personally. I have long
hoped we might someday perform piano duets together, and perhaps do some recording as
Until these logistics can be solved, I am following Andrew’s career with great interest as he,
Joe and Ed make such positive contributions to our musical landscape. Here’s hoping
IN CONGRUENCE is only the first of several recordings by this stellar trio.
Senior Associate, Composition and Jazz Piano
Eastman Community Music School
Eastman School of Music