By Myra Chanin
Feeling depressed? Under the weather? Like your world is filled with gloom and doom? For the perfect antidote, let your fingers do the walkin’ to www.joealtermanmusic.com. See if Joe’s got a gig that evening, and if he does get your assets over there double quick. If he doesn’t, not to worry. At https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UY0cBEhRd_Y, you can watch Joe plus bassist James Cammack and drummer Chris Covais play Stevie Wonder’s Isn’t She Lovely with so much freedom and joy that you’ll be literally dancing on air to their beat for at least a week. Truth to tell, I’m listening to them on YouTube even as I type. The result? Tons of typos because my body is bouncing with bliss on my typing chair. If there’s such a thing as the First Baptist Church of Jazz, Joe Alterman should be its piano-playing Pastor! I’d even convert to join that congregation. Glory Hallelujah!
Adorable, modest and only 26 years old, Joe’s extremely well educated but doesn’t allow his Masters in Music from NYU to inhibit his flair for improvisation or sever the intuitive connection between his fingers and the piano keyboard that makes charts inconsequential. The tunes he plays are recognizable immediately and his variations are enchanting. His tempo is lively and irresistible. Joe’s feet dance on the floor and the piano pedals. His body glides along the piano bench as his fingers fly up and down the keys.
Joe attracts accomplished mentors, like saxophonist Houston Person and pianist Les McCann but Joe’s also a team player who allows others to shine. Songs in his sets vary from Time after Time to Pure Imagination, I Say a Little Prayer, Blue Moon, and Theme which he co-composed with Les McCann. You Are My Sunshine illuminated the Iridium during his last Sunday night show. His music is sexy in a romantic, loving way that makes me recall the dirty doings of my long gone youth. Sigh! Sigh!
Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s what legendary Jazz journalist Nat Hentoff said about him in the Wall Street Journal two years ago: “really the personification of the past of jazz – he’s really deep into that -, the present of jazz – he has his own voice – and that leads him into the future of jazz, and he’s so important in terms of the validity of jazz. He and Houston Person make recordings that are beyond category because they’re timeless.”
This month Joe will be appearing in Manhattan at Caffe Vivaldi, Pangea, La Mediteranee and the Kitano. And until you can get there and enjoy him in person, his website or YouTube will supply you with Joe playing great music minus a cover charge or minimum.