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Eddie Gómez & Mark Kramer: “Art of the Heart”

(Art of Life AL1019-2)

Digital Downloads | About the Music | Liner Notes | Selected Quotations

Eddie Gómez & Mark Kramer: "Art of the Heart"

Eddie Gómez: acoustic bass
Mark Kramer: piano

CD $24.99

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Wonderful, Wonderful
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Moment to Moment
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Chances Are
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Call Me Irresponsible
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Hello Young Lovers
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They Say It's Wonderful
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Easy to Love
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Small World
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It's Not For Me to Say
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If I Loved You
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I'll be Seeing You
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Digital Downloads {top}

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About the Music {top}

Recorded on February 14, 2004 at Platinum Seven Studios in Pennsylvania, "Art of the Heart" features music popularized by Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole performed and arranged by the legendary bassist Eddie Gómez and the brilliant pianist Mark Kramer. Best known for his work with pianist Bill Evans, Eddie Gómez's performance throughout this recording is very reminiscent of his work with Evans but incorporates an even greater depth of feeling due to the empathetic playing of Mark Kramer. The musical and emotional depth created by Gómez & Kramer throughout this recording is perhaps the deepest of all their combined works over the past decade. Although there are only two of them, the music feels and sounds orchestral at times despite their generous use of space throughout. The music Gómez & Kramer have created on this album is a study in musical communication, interaction, minimalism and "orchestration" which is destined to become a true classic.

Liner Notes {top}

I have often thought that the release of a new CD is much like childbirth. All the stages are crucial: conception, pre production, recording, nurturing and post production; all necessary to give the child (CD) the best chance possible to blossom into a healthy, well adjusted, prosperous individual. This "labor" of love Mark Kramer and I have undertaken gives me immeasurable pride and profound joy. I hope this album (child) will be received warmly and perhaps given the opportunity to touch a few "hearts."

Eddie Gómez

The Art of the Heart
"On the razor's edge of a refined attention"

What is "The Art of the Heart?" Beyond our use of 20th century romantic tunes as its infrastructure, what is newsworthy about this CD? What can a writer say? Can this work ever be described in print by any "turn of a phrase" that is as fresh and full-bodied, as is this recording? Reviewers/writers might be challenged to get it right. I know I can't, but I have been asked to try.

Firstly, this is a music that lives on the razor's edge of a very fine attention. Drop the laser anywhere, and note that the vibration is consistent from track to track. The attention required in "making" this music had to renew itself often, e.g., at the points in which inspiration turns to expiration, and vice versa. Thus, this music is a byproduct of an organic listening which takes place over the course of a thousand or more relatively conscious breaths over an hour or more. Secondly, the music lays bare a higher source, which animates us. This is a higher energy which conveys special "states of being" amongst which contain wonder, frailty, pathos, dying and being reborn. This is the "Art" - i.e., observing and faithfully conveying a hidden reality through an ordinary form of craft (once popular song). Thirdly, this is a music in which authentic gut-wrenching emotion appears only as a result of our joint rarified attention to the silence between the actual vibrations. Thus, the music is a representation of a hidden reality, which is as hopeful as it is pristine, but also moving at a remarkably fast inner speed; more rapid than the rate of ordinary perception. This is the "Heart."

Mark Kramer

Selected Quotations {top}

Great classics performed from a river of ivory tones never gets too old, in fact in many ways it often gets better. With all the pianists blossoming from the ranks globally it is soothing and refreshing to see the mighty art still have the respect it deserves. Such is the case with this 2006 release from Eddie Gómez and Mark Kramer entitled Art of The Heart a very smooth piece of bass meets keys.

Mathis to Cole, this dressing on the entrée of jazz is appetizing and keeps the listener full of mood. Mr. Gómez and his bass style bring emotion to a new extreme with each performance. Timing is thought-out and in some magical way speaks to the listener as to what the instrument is feeling. In Moment to Moment one can find that example as if the bass cries tears for the moments expressed. Truly capturing the feel!!

The keyboard acts as the baton throughout the project as the ivory escorts the journey. Mr. Kramer has a risk mentality to his playing never holding back to facilitate the music into another direction yet to be explored. These two artistic analysts of sound interact as well as most and bring these wonderful classics to a head. Note this with Call Me Irresponsible gently boasting humility, very smooth listen!

A fine effort with anticipation for more to be had in the future, a very satisfying piece of jazz!
Karl Stober - eJazzNews

Eddie Gómez is a legendary master bassist who, among his many affiliations, performed for more than a decade with the immortal pianist Bill Evans. Mark Kramer is a Philadelphia phenomenon, a Renaissance man who has worked not only as a fine musician and recording artist but also has had a career as a prominent physician and pharmacologist.

A few years ago, these long-time friends and musical associates came together to form their own duo (and sometimes trio), doing recordings, live performances and master classes in New York, Philadelphia, and elsewhere on the circuit. This dynamic duo evokes shades of the Evans and his fabulous bassists, beginning with Scott LaFaro. Gómez eventually replaced LaFaro following the latter's untimely death, which devastated Evans. Gómez thus knows from experience what it means to relate at a deep level of compassion and mutuality with his musical cohorts.

While not billed as such, this duo recording seems like a fitting tribute to Gómez's collaboration with Evans. Romantic to the core in both its selection of standards and its overall feeling, Art of the Heart is also filled with the bittersweet emotion that you encounter when, on a quiet day, you remember the most beautiful experiences and relationships in your life and you know they are gone, but somehow they are with you in the present moment.

Mostly calm and contemplative, this album can bring tears to your eyes, especially during Gómez's bowed bass solos, where he evokes a deep and lyrical range of emotions. His bowing technique reminds us that the bass typically used in jazz for rhythmic backup is part of the string section of the orchestra and a sibling of the violin, viola and cello. (Its full name is the bass viol or bass violin.) I've never heard a jazz bassist play with such otherworldly beauty. Gómez exploits the resonance of the (unmiked) acoustic bass as a kind of deep-register cello.

Kramer's playing complements Gómez and reminds me of Evans' style on a recording of his own composition I Will Say Goodbye. The sentiment and sound are pure and sweet, and every note is given equal importance. In the liner notes Kramer states that the music lays bare a higher source, which animates us. This is a higher energy which conveys special states of being amongst which contain wonder, frailty, pathos, dying, and being reborn. Thus the popular standards that form the basis of this album become sources of contemplation of life, love and the preciousness of each moment, to which we, like the musicians, must give our utmost care and attention, since it is slipping by just as we hold and treasure it.

All in all, Art of the Heart is a superbly made recording which reveals how much jazz can be the story of our lives and the meanings we find during the quiet hours of recollection in tranquility.
Victor L. Schermer - All About Jazz

These two jazz veterans, bassist Eddie Gómez and pianist Mark Kramer, have recorded show tunes over their long careers, including a few albums devoted to a single musical such as Evita en Jazz and 2004's new look at the score of Fiddler on the Roof. They often play in a trio and other formations, but here it's just the two, and it's a low-key, very pretty and very accessible album, even for those who only dip a toe in the waters of jazz.

There are five Broadway songs this time around: from Irving Berlin, "They Say It's Wonderful"; from Jule Styne and Stephen Sondheim's Gypsy they embrace "Small World"; and there are two from the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalogue, "If I Loved You" and "Hello Young Lovers," which features some especially graceful sections, with Eddie's bowing and Mark's tip-toeing on the keyboard before they become more adventurous. Though it's not thought of as a show tune, the standard "I'll Be Seeing You" actually is from a Broadway musical, Right This Way, which lasted about two weeks. Fortunately, the song has thrived for 68 years. It's treated very respectfully here.

Songs from film are here, too. We get Cole Porter's "Easy to Love," a movie song originally intended for the stage (cut from Anything Goes). It's more abstract and exploratory than most of the album, and they take more liberties before returning to a more traditional chorus at the end. Their "Smile" is bittersweet and introspective; Mark's solo ending, a super-simple one-finger playing, is oddly effective. Also originating in motion pictures are "Call Me Irresponsible," a less often heard title song from 1965, "Moment to Moment" (Mancini/Mercer), and "It's Not for Me to Say" from a film called Lizzie, where it was introduced by Johnny Mathis and became one of his early hits. This album will have a special meaning to Mathis fans, as it also includes his smashes, "Wonderful, Wonderful" and "Chances Are." Gómez and Kramer make even pop ditties sound like little sonatas with their non-condescending approach.

This CD wears well. It's been my most constant companion while I work and relax this week. I'm impressed with the men on both sides of the ampersand. I love how Gomez & Kramer still sound like they're relishing melodies, even though they've been playing for years. It's very romantic - maybe in small part because the whole thing was recorded on Valentine's Day.
Rob Lester -

Like his former employer, Bill Evans, Eddie Gómez, the renowned acoustic bassist, never plays an un-heartfelt note, as this duo outing with pianist Mark Kramer, amply demonstrates. This is a magical and inspired pairing, mapping the intricate geography of the human heart through a brace of old standards such as the Henry Mancini-penned Moment to Moment, and Stillman and Allen's evergreen Chances Are, sung to continued enjoyment by Johnny Mathis. Gómez's luminous plucked notes and gravitas-embossed bowed bass passages confirm him as one of the best on his instrument. Kramer's prowess at the keyboard remains uncontested.
John Stevenson - eJazzNews

It's rare to hear ballads bowed - and Gómez bows so cleanly, with feeling.
Fradley Garner - Overseas Magazine

Aaahh the echoes of the Bill Evans musical school. And, I don't say this to take away from the pure artistry of these two musical giants, bassist Eddie Gómez & keyboard master Mark Kramer. It's just that it's so nice to hear the wonderful ethos of that musical genre Bill Evans was wont to create. For the inveterate romantic, this CD is a must! The combined sound of both Eddie & Mark is star quality indeed!! Both these wonderful musical craftsmen are propagandist on behalf of our beloved jazz idiom, & thank goodness for that. And, both are more than significant artists-players in their own right. Might I pay a personal kudo to Eddie's incredible Bowing prowess. Mmmm, Mmmm, good!
George W. Carroll The Musicians Ombudsman

Renowned jazz bassist Eddie Gómez aligns with pianist Mark Kramer for an intimate musical encounter. They cover standards via this no-frills and largely, sanguine studio session featuring the duo's spin on time-honored standards. More often than not, the overall muse elicited here projects a vibe that might be akin to the advent of spring, where a quiet breeze transmits the fragrances of a new season.

To that end, the musicians inject soul-stirring sentiments during the course of these twelve pieces. Gómez generates a pensive outlook via his poignant arco-lines on Henry Mancini's Moment to Moment, where Kramer executes a metronome-like pulse, followed by lucid thematic passages. The duo reworks Rodgers and Hammerstein's Hello Young Lovers, into an ebullient jazz-waltz motif, accentuated by Kramer's sprightly harmonics and radiantly conveyed lyricism. Here and elsewhere, Kramer sparks memories of Gómez' one-time employer, pianist Bill Evans, primarily due to his lushly melodic and buoyant phrasings. Ultimately, the duo's aim is true, sans any glitz and sugar-coating. And it's jazz music with an overall vibe that goes straight to the heart.
Glenn Astarita eJazzNews

A duo setting with Eddie Gómez on bass and Mark Kramer at the piano makes for an interesting mix. "Smile", Gómez's arco starts this piece off followed by Kramer's strong solo on this ballad. Nice treatment to an old chestnut. "I'll Be Seeing You" Kramer's pensive and heady solo with Gómez adding tid bits of beauty in the background is delightful. This song builds beautifully into a work of pure 'art of the heart'. 4 stars.
John Gilbert California Coast Jazz

It doesn't take more than a minute or two of listening to Art of the Heart to hear the influence of pianist Bill Evans. Pianist Mark Kramer applies the same lyrical bent towards this project with ex-Evans bassist Eddie Gómez--one of the three bassists whose careers are indelibly connected to Evans' trios. This combines for a pleasing series of piano/bass duets that will recall the many duet (and, of course, piano trio albums) made during the 1970s.

Recorded two years ago on Valentine's Day, the album is an appropriate remembrance of Evans and his various groups, and what they brought to small jazz recordings over the decades. The album begins with an homage to the popular music of the late 1950s and early '60s, when quality tunesmiths (eg. Sammy Cahn, Jimmy Van Heusen, Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer) were providing strong melodies that were usually performed by pre-rock 'n' roll singers like Sinatra and Johnny Mathis. (Five early songs that were associated with him are included here.) It seems like a long step backwards into today's musical environment, in which there is virtually no pop music category from which to adapt tunes into a jazz setting. The latest offerings from Beyonce or Radiohead hardly seem like the material to work with (although Brad Mehldau and others might disagree with that statement).

At least half of this album consists of the parts of the Great American Songbook that were written during the 1950s or earlier, and the artists make their point many times over. Gomez plays lots of arco melody statements and solos (both acoustic and bowed) in a startling, dramatic way. When he bows the melody of Henry Mancini's Moment to Moment or Chances Are, the result is a definitive affirmation of melody that's far stronger than what we heard when he performed with Bill Evans several decades ago. On the other hand, Kramer seems like a veritable and bona fide version of Evans as the modal pianist who endeared himself to jazz fans worldwide.

Although the closing track is listed as the standard I'll Be Seeing You, it swells into an nine-minute version that morphs into Lionel Bart's Where is Love (This is the hidden bonus track on the CD - Art of Life Records)
Michael P. Gladstone All About Jazz

"Art of the Heart," a collaboration between celebrated bassist Eddie Gómez and gifted pianist Mark Kramer, takes listeners on a leisurely, contemplative walk down memory lane. These brilliant musicians arrangements and artistic interpretation of standards once sung by greats like Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole elevate listeners to new emotional heights.

The nostalgic "Chances Are" and the beautifully poetic progression of "Smile" illustrate Gómez's desire to invoke the discovery of a "higher source." This level of spirituality unraveled through music, Gomez says in the liner notes, "animates us [and] conveys special states of being amongst which contain wonder, frailty, pathos, dying and being reborn."

Simple, soothing, and heartfelt, "Art of the Heart" surely will capture the imagination and sensitivity of jazz novices and longtime fans alike.
C. Lizaire

If you know anything about Eddie Gómez, you will know what to expect from "Art of the Heart". As Bill Evans' longtime bassist, Gómez knows a few things about sensitivity and beauty, and he shows it in abundance on this gorgeous duet recording with pianist Mark Kramer. Alternating between delicate fingerings and warm legato bowing, Gómez is breathtakingly romantic on an hour's worth of standards like "Chances Are", "Hello Young Lovers" and "I'll Be Seeing You." At times orchestral and other times hauntingly intimate, Gómez and Kramer weave wonderous sounds and emotions with sensitivity and clarity. This is "music for lovers" without having to splice together a careers worth of recordings from various labels. Here, it is delivered as it was meant. Anyone missing Evans' classic duo work with Gómez have a long awaited companion.
George Harris - All About Jazz

Virtuoso bassist, Eddie Gómez, teams up with pianist, Mark Kramer in a delightful jazz project. "Art of the Heart" offers a selection of classy ballads we all associate with the 1950s and with some of the best-known male vocalists of the period. Gómez and Kramer picked a dozen romantic pieces from the repertoires of Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole. How can they miss?

In their brief but interesting notes, Mark Kramer and Eddie Gómez quickly summarize their project. Kramer says, in part, This is a music that lives on the razor's edge of a very fine attention and continues. The attention required in making this music had to renew itself often, e.g., at the points in which inspiration turns to expiration and vice versa. Eddie Gómez equates the creation of an album with childbirth. All the stages are crucial: conception, pre production, recording, nurturing and post production; all necessary to give the child (CD) the best chance possible to blossom into a healthy, well adjusted, prosperous individual.

The duo have certainly done their homework and turned twelve rather simple melodies into complex but listenable performances. Here is a CD that dashes the imaginary boundaries between classical music, straight-ahead jazz and easy listening fare.

"Art of the Heart" is fresh, airy, intense and absolutely beautiful.
Richard Bourcier - Jazz Review

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