Every once in a while, an artist comes along who is certain to create a dynamic reaction within the contemporary music community. Pianist-composer Carl England is just such an artist. With a combination of inspired composition, commanding neo-classic instrumentation and energized piano playing, Carl England brings a new genre to the world of smooth and contemporary jazz. Listen to his first release, appropriately entitled “Debut” and you’ll hear a expansive array of jazz, pop, rock, acid, dance and funk that is sure to both attract the ears of seasoned listeners, and to appeal to younger fans who have just discovered the joys of instrumental music. “Debut” is a focused collection of unique tracks that utilize dedicated rhythm and lead keyboards parts, just as a rock music utilizes separate rhythm and lead guitars. “This allows for greater chordal, and rhythmic flexibility as well as the use of the fullest registers of the instruments, making a unique sound for this genre”, Says England. While these pieces reveal affection for such major influences as David Sanborn, Spyro Gyra and The Rippingtons, there’s an individual signature to this music that is immediate and captivating.
“In my music, says England, I’m trying to give contemporary jazz the hook I feel has been missing much of the time and raise it all to a new level of intensity. Then surround it with full and rich production, a combination that I’ve already seen appeal to a wide variety of ages and most uniquely, to listeners of my generation.”
“Debut” captures a variety of moods and emotions, from the broad and dramatic sweep of “Rolling Credits” to the atmospheric “Roses and Rain.” The album starts off with the intricate rhythms of “Tryin’ or Dyin”, a piece displaying rhythmic syncopation. This leads to “Arpeggiolosophy,” a spirited composition that finds England exploiting his technical ease and assurance at the keyboard. Then comes “Giving Back”, a bouncy tune “simply about joy, and gratitude,” says England. Next, the audience is introduced to “Roses and Rain”, a floating track with fretless bass and rain sounds. Next comes “Six O’ Clock” which was inspired by a drum groove on singer Al Jarreau’s “Breaking Away” Warner Bros album. This snappy number then makes way for the evocative “Pacific Rim Summer” which is the composer’s tribute to the Northwest, where he grew up and spent many fruitful years. “Sun On Snow” calls to mind the ideal scenes of winter on a pristine day. While “Chill Don’t Change” is an ode to one of England’s musical loves: Downtempo house music. Next is Boogyoo, an acid jazz track with a mean chorus pocket. Then comes “Sun Spot” which is a funked up groove with plenty of wah wah tucked in. “While We Were Young” is an organic dance track with a bright hook. Then the finale, like all the pieces in this compilation, “Rolling Credits” spotlights England’s enthusiastic, communicative piano artistry. He calls the selection “a cinematic anthem.” All in all, “Debut” is a positive collection of music making.
Carl England, a native of Los Angeles who grew up in Portland, began playing piano at age eight but it wasn’t until he was 15 that the instrument grabbed his imagination. “One day, after a very long hiatus, I completely rediscovered the beauty of the piano,” he recalls. “It filled a very big space in my soul. I knew I had found something special.” In high school, England was called the “Music Man” by his classmates and quickly garnered a reputation for his ability to play whatever he heard. To further explore his talents, he studied at the Mount Hood College-School of Music, located in what he calls “the jazz capital of the Northwest.” It was here that he began his career as a local and regional performer and concert pianist.
England next spent two years in Los Angeles, studying recording engineering at U.C.L.A. and at the Trebas Institute of Recording Arts, from which he earned a degree in Recording Engineering and Record Production.
Back in Portland, England opened a commercial recording studio–England Design Audio–where he produced records and composed music for advertising.
All the time that England operated the studio, the goal of ultimately establishing himself as a recording artist was on his mind. So he eventually sold the studio and moved to Boulder, Colorado, where he worked as a recording engineer by day and composed and recorded “Debut” and his second album”Big Jazz” at night.
After another stint in Los Angeles, Carl England is now settled back in Portland and ready to make his name as a distinctive contemporary composer and pianist. Armed with these excellent recordings, a blistering five piece live group and possessing abundant talent, enthusiasm and confidence, it seems clear that his goals will be realized.