Music Beat

‘Jazz luminary of the future’ returns to Rainshadow

Scott Cossu joined by acclaimed cellist Holly Reeves

Posted 1/29/20

World-renowned jazz pianist, composer, arranger and flutist Scott Cossu is not only returning to Rainshadow Recording in February, but he can remember playing there before it was …

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Music Beat

‘Jazz luminary of the future’ returns to Rainshadow

Scott Cossu joined by acclaimed cellist Holly Reeves

Posted

World-renowned jazz pianist, composer, arranger and flutist Scott Cossu is not only returning to Rainshadow Recording in February, but he can remember playing there before it was Rainshadow.

“I recorded at the same location, when It was called Synergy Sound, with the owner and engineer, my longtime friend and classmate at the University of Washington, Neville Pearsall,” Cossu said. “I always loved being in Port Townsend, and I especially enjoyed the uniqueness of recording and playing in the old bunker. When I met Everett Moran, (owner and engineer of Rainshadow Recording,) it was an easy transition, coming back to perform in the familiar space.”

Cossu appreciates the fact that his Feb. 7 concert at Rainshadow Recording takes place during the same month as the official release — “I say officially, because it is already available for streaming” — of his 16th and latest recording, “Memories of Water and Light,” which also continues his longtime studio association with Pearsall.

Cossu was one of the more prominent artists on the Windham Hill label for 13 years, from 1981 through 1994, and he described his music as a unique blend of jazz, classical and world music styles.

Of course, as an ethnomusicologist who’s studied with musicians from around the world, Cossu brings a wealth of experience to his music, that he admits makes his style difficult to classify.

Cossu’s career dates back to “when New Age was just beginning, more than 30 years ago,” and he was one of the first Windham Hill artists to join founder Will Ackerman and Alex Degrassi on their new label out of Palo Alto, California.

“I took piano lessons as a boy, but it wasn’t until I wanted to drop my swimming scholarship, and get into the University of Ohio School of Music, that I got serious as a musician,” Cossu said. “As a senior in high school, I practiced piano and got into every musical experience I could. I had a rock band, but I was very much into classical music. I would go to our local church at night, and play and compose for hours. I loved everything from Bach and Chopin, to the Doors, and of course, Pink Floyd.”

Cossu has playfully referred to his own music as “Heavy Mental” and “Cosmic National Geographic,” but his cred as one of the grandfathers of the New Age scene was confirmed when he was labeled a “jazz luminary of the future” by Billboard Magazine.

At the same time, Cossu sees his style as diverging from New Age enough that he believes it’s not inaccurate to apply the label of “Cossu sound” to his music.

“My original compositions have been described by reviewers as beautiful, heartfelt and uplifting,” Cossu said. “I’ve seen tears during some of my concerts, especially when ballet companies have used my pieces. I try to offset that by adding jazz, blues, boogie-woogie and other genres to my concert programs. Keep in mind that 90% of the music that I compose is of a romantic nature. That’s just what comes to me as I sit at the piano and compose.”

Joining Cossu for his Rainshadow concert is Holly Reeves, well-known to Olympia concert-goers as the principal cellist of the Olympia Symphony Orchestra, with whom she’s performed 21 seasons.

Reeves is also a longtime member of the Tacoma-based chamber orchestra Northwest Sinfonietta, performing in Seattle, Tacoma and Puyallup.

When asked what he feels Reeves contributes to his sound, Cossu said simply, “Wow. You just have to listen. I am so lucky to have her play with me. She is such a talented cellist, and a beautiful personality. When we play together, we have a connection that flows easily into my compositions.”

Before she moved to the Northwest, Reeves was a member of the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Santa Barbara Chamber Orchestra and the Japan America Symphony Orchestra.

Further, Reeves established a highly-regarded chamber series in Santa Barbara, as a founding member of the award-winning Anacapa String Quartet.

An experienced chamber musician, Reeves has performed throughout the United States and in Canada, Costa Rica, France, Switzerland, Great Britain, Japan and Italy, so performing with Cossu is far from her first rodeo.

“Many of my musical peers are solo artists,” Cossu said. “I enjoy playing with other musicians, and each city and each concert can have its own uniqueness. I can have an eight-piece band with congas, trumpets and a guitar, or take it to a different level, and give an intimate show with just my cellist. If it’s a large stage at a festival, of course, the bigger band is a better fit, but I mostly enjoy the small setting and the sound of the piano, guitar and cello. Part of the reason my new recording is so special to me, is that it’s just so intimate and lovely, and speaks to the way I compose.”

Cossu looks forward to sharing several pieces from “Memories of Water and Light” during his concert at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 7, at Rainshadow Recording, with tickets available at scottcossupt.brownpapertickets.com.

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