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Steve Blanco Trio: “Piano Warrior”

(Art of Life AL1035-2)

Discography | Digital Downloads | About the Music | Selected Quotations

Steve Blanco Trio: "Piano Warrior"

Steve Blanco: piano
Sunny Jain: drums
Adam Roberts: acoustic bass

CD $29.99

Limited Edition of 500 copies.

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Sadness & the Madness
(Listen to MP3)

Us and Them
(Listen to MP3)

(Listen to MP3)

Piano Warrior
(Listen to MP3)

Laughing Planet
(Listen to MP3)

Brother Song 2
(Listen to MP3)

(Listen to MP3)

5 3 5
(Listen to MP3)

Black Dog
(Listen to MP3)

Final Voyage
(Listen to MP3)

Piano Warrior Reprise (Bonus Track) *
(Listen to MP3)

written by Pink Floyd
written by Led Zeppelin

* Bonus Track
Available as an MP3 Digital Download only.

Digital Downloads {top}

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About the Music {top}

Art of Life Records is proud to welcome pianist Steve Blanco to its roster of recording artists. Joining Steve on his Trio's latest release, "Piano Warrior", is drummer Sunny Jain and bassist Adam Roberts. "Piano Warrior" features the Trio's Jazz arrangement of Pink Floyd's classic song "Us and Them" from "The Dark Side of the Moon" album in addition to a Jazz arrangement of Led Zeppelin's-"Black Dog" as well as nine original compositions. The Steve Blanco Trio's-"Piano Warrior" CD release contains 10 tracks with over 75 minutes of music. "Piano Warrior Reprise" is a Bonus Track available as an MP3 Digital Download only. All tracks have been digitally recorded, mixed and mastered using 24-bit digital technology.

Jazz pianist, composer and filmmaker Steve Blanco has been forging ahead with self-made creative works for over a decade. The son of a French-speaking Moroccan belly dancer (mother) and film editor with a love of music and art (father), Blanco was exposed to artistic expressions from many different cultures. Growing up he learned the trumpet then drums and didn't arrive at the piano until age 23.

Blanco was recently selected to serve as a music composition grant panelist for the prestigious New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA).

Blanco has released three critically acclaimed CDs, produced a music video (directed by Blanco) and currently leads a piano trio with Adam Roberts and Sunny Jain, but performs regularly in solo and duo settings. The trio has performed in many venues including: Domaine, Detour Jazz Club, Williamsburg Jazz Festival, Rockwood Music Hall, Watercolor Cafe, Caffe Vivaldi, The Museum of American Folk Art, The Pierre Hotel, World Yacht, Bimhuis in Amsterdam and a multitude of other establishments.

Blanco has recently released a duo CD with guitarist Jeremy Wilms and contributes to the Munich-based Orkaan Orkestra led by composer and bassist Juergen Reiter.

In addition to performing music on a professional level, Blanco has directed several short films including: Missing You, 140 Decibels, Autumn, The Masterpiece (official selection New York International Film Festival), The Filth (official selection San Francisco Short Film Festival), ETR, and most recently, Bicycle (official selection Harlem International Film Festival). Blanco has also written the complete score for several of these films. He has served as writer, editor and cinematographer either altogether or in combinations on each of these films. He has been producer on all.

Blanco accredits his father as a major influence in bringing to the surface an array of emotional experiences stemming from creative masterpieces in music, cinema, art, writings and philosophy that he would have otherwise not been exposed to as a young child.

From his childhood music has always been a driving force and ever present in his existence. After teaching himself for a few years Blanco privately studied piano before receiving a B.F.A. from Purchase Conservatory in New York. Blanco is the CoFounder of Insomnia Creations with Louis Cuffari and James Bartolozzi and a contributing editor for ic magazine.

Blanco resides and performs regularly in New York City.

Selected Quotations {top}

One thing you can say about the Steve Blanco Trio's-"Piano Warrior" CD is that it doesn't all sound the same. Steve Blanco is one of the younger generation of Jazz pianists who thinks nothing about pulling inspiration from Rock and other sources. His trio even changes direction several times within the same piece. For example "Sadness & The Madness" moves from pulsing midtempo Jazz through percussive abstraction into creeping Blues Rock. It sounds somewhat similar to Brad Mehldaus take on Radioheads "Paranoid Android". Two Rock standards are actually covered here also. Pink Floyds "Us And Them" hovers quietly along the basic theme before morphing into tricky Blues piano and Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" retains a surprising amount of its thumping original form in the piano trio arrangement here. As for the other Blanco originals, "535" and "Piano Warrior" both have tricky progressive Rock melodies alternating with a mellower Jazz flow, "Brother Song II" sounds like a French Folk song powered by slow Rock rhythms, and "Underground" is a dark cinematic waltz where bassist Adam Roberts gets to take a lyrical solo and Blanco breaks into violent, delirious playing. Most of the music on this CD seems based on a Rock foundation but there's a fluid, Jazzy lilt to the rhythms that provide this trio with its own identity in the increasingly crowded field of Rock influenced piano trios.
Jerome Wilson - Cadence Magazine

A true piano warrior in every sense, Steve Blanco's second solo release offers an expansion to applications previously encountered via Contact, his independent 2006 trio debut. He offers the antidote to the customary trio format with an abundance of jazz-based thematic forays that project a contrasting spell to the typical ballad-bop-swing concepts. Blanco combats any semblance of piano trio listening fatigue with explosive themes, subtle nuances and unanticipated shifts in tempo. The crack rhythm section abets the leader's cause as they mix it up with off kilter hooks, and avant-garde breakdowns amid transformations of jazz stylizations into hard-hitting grooves. Blanco also renders massive block chords against snappy rock pulses while injecting mesmeric crescendos into various regions of sound. It's a divergent set, evidenced by the trio's rather sanctified reading of Pink Floyd's "Us and Them" and other pieces, marked by the pianist's fluent reengineered maneuvers. Blanco also fuses swift bop and swing vamps into climactic opuses, all topped off by eloquence and powerful coiling diversions. Another album highlight is steeped within the band's literal reading of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog." Here, drummer Sunny Jain strokes the bell of his ride cymbal in the same manner as Led Zep drummer John Bonham, yet the trio sojourn's into a raucous jazz meltdown during the bridge. Blanco veers from the norm but doesn't necessarily stray too far from conventional jazz-centric mechanisms. He straddles the best of many musical worlds, and uncannily merges them into a persuasive vernacular, riding high with striking dynamism and highly entertaining attributes. Here's hoping that Blanco records more often.
Glenn Astarita - All About Jazz

Steve Blanco is another adventurer. He writes smart new tunes but also tries his hand at a couple of numbers from the rock 'n' roll repertoire. The music on "Piano Warrior" is a complex blend of traditional jazz piano trio, with its sense of mystery and familiar colors, and a whirling taste of chaotic yet controlled exploration. We're never quite prepared for what's coming next as is boldly evinced by a freeform take on Pink Floyd's "Us and Them". The tune seems to emerge from out of some primal eddy as a hymn to the unknown. Blanco is ably assisted by bassist Adam Roberts and drummer Sunny Jain and the three are like gentle Zen warriors who achieve their aims through more subtle means. Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" is dark and funky but the way it's approached - with the pianist's ominous low notes and the rhythm section's insistent pulse - makes the tune seem like some minimalist workout. "Final Voyage" is a gorgeous, rich ethereal ballad that moves very, very slowly and makes its points in simple statements, helped by Roberts' lush dark bass notes and the quiet punctuation of Jain. The melodies here don't smash a listener in the face but rather work deliberately and subtly, taking several listens before getting a sense of where things are going. "A.V.S." comes in single notes and phrases that mask their beginnings and endings. It develops as a full-formed piece but without ever being obvious. The title tune is found coming towards us after an opening "festival" of African-style drumming. It moves like the warrior of its title - ferociously and in an ever-changing terrain. And "Laughing Planet" seems to suggest the birth of a sense of wonder and joy in creating a tune, a metaphor for the way all of the music here is created.
Donald Elfman - All About Jazz

This is a well-recorded set, a trio of Sunny Jain (d), Adam Roberts (b) and leader Blanco on piano. The tones, imaging and space are captured well during recording making listening very realistic. The program is mostly originals but also includes jazzy arrangements of Led Zeppelin's "Black Dog" and Pink Floyd's "Us and Them". The titles are accurate descriptions of the moods. We enjoyed the tranquility of "Final Voyage", the contrasting emotions on "Sadness & the Madness" and the tribal spirits of the title track including the MP3 bonus "Reprise". This is a keeper! 4/5 [performance/sound, 5 max on each]
D. Oscar Groomes - O's Place Jazz Newsletter

I have really enjoyed Steve Blanco's new trio recording "Piano Warrior". His approach with Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd's music is something I think is not only well done but will be very accessible to many Jazz lovers. The combination of very arranged to "loose and open" is always a joy to hear in an artist. Steve is searching to get inside the music which is something he achieves throughout the album. Steve's solo playing is very effective and it is rare to find a pianist who sounds strong in a solo and a trio setting. If someone likes Keith Jarrett and Steve Kuhn they will totally enjoy this music.
Pianist Bob Rodriguez

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