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Kerry Politzer - In a Heartbeat

GA Russell

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Kerry Politzer Offers
Post-Pandemic Creative Resurgence with
"In a Heartbeat,"
Set for Release October 21
On PJCE Records
Pianist/Composer Leads Top-Flight Portland Quintet
On Her First Album of All Original Compositions in 8 Years
Appearing at The 1905, Portland,
Friday, October 21
August 22, 2022
Kerry Politzer In a Heartbeat
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Kerry Politzer reaffirms her high regard as both a pianist and a composer on In a Heartbeat, to be released October 21 on Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble (PJCE) Records. In particular, it puts Portland, Oregon-based Politzer’s writing back in the spotlight. The quintet album (featuring Portland trumpeter Thomas Barber, saxophonist/flutist Joe Manis, bassist Garrett Baxter, and drummer George Colligan) is her first in eight years to exclusively feature her own compositions and arrangements.
Not to say that Politzer hasn’t kept busy in the time since 2014’s Below the Surface, her last collection of originals. The pianist is a first-call player on Portland’s increasingly rich jazz scene, as well as an educator on Portland State University’s jazz faculty. She also received grants in 2019 and 2020 to explore the work of great Brazilian pianists (one of whom was the subject of her 2019 album, Diagonal: The Music of Durval Ferreira).
Even so, writing music has remained among Politzer’s top priorities. “Composing is one of the things I enjoy the most,” she says. “I tend to be shy and I feel like I need to put myself out there, to make an emotional statement.”
In a Heartbeat certainly does that. It’s a kaleidoscope of moods, grooves, and even timbre (with Manis’s rotation between flute and tenor and soprano saxes as the wild card). “Spring Day” basks in a midtempo waltz and knowing satisfaction; the gently swinging title track is both romantic and mysterious; “3 AM” is slow and unsettling, even foreboding; and “Goodbye” is all lyrical melancholia.
The powerful emotions and equally powerful shifts are a reflection of the time of COVID-19, during which the bulk of the music was created. “A lot of this music was coming from my subconscious,” Politzer says. “Some of it came to me in a dream, and I’d wake up and write the rest of it down. This music is a product of the dreamlike headspace I was in during the pandemic.”
If it was not a comfortable headspace in which to be, it was a remarkably inspiring one. In a Heartbeat is a glimpse at how Politzer, like any artist worthy of the name, transformed her reaction to anxious and uncertain times into bold, often haunting creative work.
Kerry Politzer
Kerry Politzer was born in Washington, DC in 1971. There was music on both sides of her family, and she inherited that muse. She started playing piano at the age of four and pursued its study first at North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC, where she attended high school, then at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where she studied with Geri Allen, Bevan Manson, and Charlie Banacos.
Having caught the jazz bug as a teenager, Politzer went to the music’s mecca, New York City, after completing her degree at NEC. She worked with the DIVA Jazz Orchestra, established herself on the jam session and Brazilian jazz scenes, and began cultivating a book of original compositions, made manifest on her 2001 debut album Yearning.
She continued documenting her music with 2002’s Watercolor, 2005’s Labyrinth, and 2010’s Blue in Blue. The latter two featured George Colligan—the acclaimed pianist and multi-instrumentalist who became her husband in 2005—on drums. The family transplanted itself across the country to Oregon in 2011, where both Colligan and Politzer took faculty positions at Portland State University.
Her music has continued to flourish and develop on the West Coast, where Politzer has also taught at the University of Portland and played in Bossa PDX, the Chuck Israels Jazz Orchestra, and the Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble, and as a featured artist in the 25th Annual Gene Harris Jazz Festival in Boise, ID. She has also continued recording with 2014’s Below the Surface, 2019’s Diagonal: The Music of Durval Ferreira, and the new release In a Heartbeat.
Kerry Politzer will be performing a CD release concert with her quintet at The 1905, 830 N. Shaver Street, Portland, OR on Fri. 10/21, 5:30-6:45pm.
Photography: Douglas Detrick
Promo for new album "In a Heartbeat"
Kerry Politzer EPK: "In a Heartbeat"

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