Ernie Krivda – Quotes & Reviews


DownBeat Critics Choice: Ernie Krivda, Blues for Pekar

Tenor saxophonist Ernie Krivda’s Blues for Pekar is dedicated to the recently deceased Harvey Pekar – author of the American Splendor comics and a jazz critic. The album has the feel of a mid ’50s Blue Note blowing session, as each soloist is afforded ample space to stretch out. Joining Krivda is The Detroit Connection, which consists of pianist Claude Black, bassist Marion Hayden and drummer Renell Gonsalves. Krivda emphasizes long, swinging lines, lyricism and a blues sensibility. His tone is big and muscular, and at times it conveys a fragility or vulnerability. While the brightness and slight brittleness of his sound may not appeal to everyone, his melodicism, unceasing output of original ideas and impeccable sense of swing should win over plenty of listeners. He also proves himself to be a sensitive balladeer. Krivda expands the group with the addition of trumpeters Sean Jones and Dominick Farinacci, who appear on two tune each. Farinacci blows several lyrical choruses on “Blues for Pekar,” and his brief but pyrotechnic cadenza on “The End Of A Love Affair” is worth repeated listens. Jones provides a nice contrast to Krivda on Dexter Gordon’s “Fried Bananas” with his round, mellow sound. Reviewed by, Chris Robinson, (October, 2011)
The irascible, outspoken and often hilarious Voice of Cleveland, Harvey Pekar, may be best known as the author of a long-running autobiographical narrative depicted in the comic book American Splendor. But he was also an insightful jazz critic who contributed record reviews to DownBeat primarily in the late ’60s and early ’70s. Pekar died last year, and it’s not hard to imagine him being elated with this tribute from his hometown’s hard-swinging tenor saxophonist Ernie Krivda whom Pekar frequently championed. Krivda’s tribute justifies Pekar’s praise. This is a strong date in the mode of Coleman Hawkins squaring off with Chu Berry, but here the front line partners are two of Krivda’s former students, trumpeters Sean Jones and Dominick Farinacci, who challenge the leader on “The End Of A Love Affair” and “Valse Hot.” Their exchanges have the same energy that Pekar brought to his confrontations with David Letterman (look those up on YouTube). But the standout is Krivda’s extended title track, as the saxophonist engages drummer Renell Gonsalves, bassist Marion Hayden and pianist Claude Black with the sort of aggression and warmth that Pekar would have loudly applauded . Reviewed by Aaron Cohen.
Every so often something truly ‘spiritual’ comes to me to review. And I don’t mean ‘Gospel.’ I mean a project that will both move your spirit and your artistic sensibilities. Jazz sax-man Ernie Krivda contains this musical power in his playing, and I must say that his delivery of the jazz standard “More Than You Know” makes my feeling about him manifest in spades. This is a guy who can ply his talents beautifully because musical ideas come to him spontaneously while he is playing. Krivda’s jazz is created in his mind, felt in his heart and soul, and heard through his fingers. What a gift! The music we hear does not flow as a total result of his studies, rather more from his feelings at the moment in real time. His journeyman experience helps us to understand the elements of musical expression thus developing by default a musical vocabulary of sorts, offering to us his listeners a chance to understand and transcend as it were. I think Ernie has found through his art the explicit language of music for our benefit. We are left emotionally enhanced in our conscious minds to the beauty of music in its grand and most powerful exponent…..JAZZ! Blues for Pekar: Reviewed by George Carroll, The Musicians’ Ombudsman
Once upon a time, when WBFO-FM was still serving the community by remaining in the jazz business, we had a on-air personality (and prominent local musician) who’d actually refer to tenor saxophonist Ernie Krivda as “the iron lung of Cleveland, Ohio,” the kind of nickname that jazz musicians might raucously use among themselves but which doesn’t exactly translate gracefully to the world beyond. Clumsy though it was, it gets to the heart of what makes Krivda a unique player whose relatively small reputation in jazz rests solely on one fact: He’s spent his life in Cleveland, Ohio. Or, as the late Harvey Pekar — underground comic maestro and world-class irascible American grump — used to say, “Ernie Krivda is one of the greatest tenor saxophonist in the world … but nobody may know this because, like me, he chooses to live in Cleveland.” It’s Krivda’s circular breathing that makes his agile lines incredibly long and ferocious in a sustained way that isn’t like anyone else. He’s a spectacular player — passionate and high-voltage without pulverizing in the least a natural musicality that makes his ballads glorious. And listen to the players with him on this bebop tribute to Pekar — trumpet players Sean Jones and Dominick Farinacci, and to his rhythm section “The Detroit Connection” composed of 78-year-old pianist Claude Black, bassist Marion Hayden and drummer Renell Gonsalves, son of Duke Ellington’s great, harmonically daring marathon tenor player Paul Gonsalves. A great disc. Some American musical splendor in Pekar’s honor. Blues for Pekar: Reviewed by Jeff Simon, Buffalo News
Ernie Krivda and the Detroit Connection comprise a band with loads of musical character and talent. From the first bars of English songwriter Edward Redding’s “The End of a Love Affair,” (track 1), you are hooked on the energy and excitement the group creates out of thin air. Krivda’s tenor hits on all cylinders; asking no quarter; giving none. Krivda himself sounds like the kind of player that does not start ‘love affairs’ that he can’t end; other than that, he’s a hell of a special tenor man; he’s just a glutton for punishment, that’s all. Just dig the heart and soul he burns into his solos; and the way he ends them. But he is in good company on this tune, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci adds to the inferno with some high octane fuel of his own. Then they get into a ferocious exchange, with each horn insisting on having the last word. Luckily, the drums of Renell Gonsalves intervene to break up the melee; and he gets to take the last swig. If somehow, you survived the end of that love affair, Krivda returns on (track 2), intending to tear your heart out with an impassioned interpretation of the Billy Rose/Edward Eliscu/Vincent Youmans standard “More Than You Know.” He is helped with some of the heavy lifting by pianist Claude Black who, as Krivda states,”…is a master of the great American standard song,” and who has the uncanny ability to “orchestrate on the move.” This interpretive magic is reprised on “Darn That Dream” (track 4) with the addition of a stellar performance from the rhythm section in sharpening the contours of the colors painted by Krivda’s exciting tenor sax. The Detroit Connection makes a New York Connection with the jazz classic “Valse Hot” (track 3). This is played with such feeling and skill, that it seems more akin to one tenor player paying homage and respect to another, who just happens to be one of the last (if not the last) living tenor legends; still active, and relevant on the current jazz scene: The incomparable tenor saxophonist, Theodore Walter “Sonny” Rollins, composer of “Valse Hot.” The hot trumpet of Sean Jones is heard on the tune trading exchanges with Ernie Krivda’s tenor, adding exhilaration and joy to the effort. Later in the CD, Krivda again gives a nod of acknowledgement and respect to another tenor titan, Dexter Keith Gordon, with his rendition of “Fried Bananas” (track 5). Krivda plays ‘long and tall’ in true Gordonian lyrical fashion after a crisp Renell Gonsalves (Paul’s son) drum intro; Sean Jones digs in with a driving trumpet solo, while Marion Hayden plays steady, incisive bass figures and pianist Claude Black makes like Gordon, and drops a slick quote of “The Peanut Vendor” neatly into his solo. Dexter Gordon’s ‘fried bananas’ never tasted better. The two final tunes on the CD are dedications to a couple of Krivda’s acquaintances who have ‘checked out.’ On “One for Willie” (track 6), for saxophone/arranger Willie Smith, there are two especially tasty duets with bassist Marion Hayden and Krivda and a beautiful extended bass solo that shines with Marion Hayden’s dexterity and imaginative prowess. The final dedication is for jazz critic and Downbeat Magazine contributor Harvey Pekar, to whom the CD is dedicated, and titled: “Blues for Pekar.” Both compositions are moving, remarkably graceful, and serve as a fitting end to an extraordinarily outstanding jazz music CD. If you like a tenor player with serious ‘chops,” who’s totally original and radiates searing heat; then, Ernie Krivda is the real deal. Blues for Pekar: Review By C.J. Bond,
Tenor man Ernie Krivda pays tribute to a fellow Cleveland resident, the late writer (American Splendor) and jazz critic Harvey Pekar in this lickety-split throwback bebop recording. Krivda only stops to take a breath during the lastingly beautiful “Darn that Dream,” by Jimmy Heusen. That’s the exception that proves the tongue-wagging rule here, though. For proof look no further than their scalding take on Dexter Gordon’s “Fried Bananas,” a thumping romp. Krivda appears thoughout with a rhythm section dubbed the Detroit Connection that includes drummer Renell Gonsalves (son of longtime Duke Ellington sideman Paul Gonsalves), and also welcomes trumpeter Sean Jones on two tracks “Bananas” and the smoking Sony Rollins tune “Valse Hot.” Trumpet and flugelhorn player Dominick Farinacci sits in on the opening standard “End of a Love Affair,” a shifty delight, and on the sharply percussive title track. Blues for Pekar: Nick DeRiso, Something Else Reviews
Cleveland tenor man Erie Krivda is an underrated colossus, a mean swinger, a jubilantly, unabashedly, exultantly old-school tell-a-story type of improviser, Cannonball was something of a mentor, while Krivda, in turn, became a mentor to the younger Clevelander Joe Lovano. And despite time in L..A. (with Quincy Jones) and in New York City (where he began his much-lauded work for Inner City in the ’80s), he’s spent most of his career in his hometown. His numerous jazz-scribe admirers include Cleveland’s most famous, the late Harvey Pekar; in an issue of his American Splendor comic book, he judged Krivda as “one of the best jazz tenor sax men in the world.” With this mostly standards disc – plus the title track and one other original – Krivda lives up to Pekar’s estimation. He gets a spirited assist from trumpeters Sean Jones and Dominick Farinacci plus the estimable Detroti Connection rhythm section of Renell Gonsalves (drums), Marion Hayden (bass) and Claude Black (piano). In fact, the chance to hear the sooooo underrecorded near-octogenarian Black is worth the price of a second copy (to give away and spread the word). Blues for Pekar: MetroTimes Review
Cleveland, Ohio-based tenor saxophonist Ernie Krivda team up with his Detroit Connection, rhythm section of Motor City jazz stalwarts, on Blues for Pekar, a swinging mainstream set that bursts to life with a fiery take on the standard, “The End of a Love Affair.” After a brief unison head with the first of his guest front-liners, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, Krivda–an under-appreciated veteran with more than thirty CDs to his credit–cuts loose, announcing himself as a stylist as idiosyncratic as Eric Dolphy or Lee Konitz, lifting the roof off the studio with some explosive up-tempo blowing. On the 1920s Vincent Youngman ballad “More Than You Know,” it’s just Krivda and the rhythm section, led by pianist Claude Black, who adds gentle splashes of elegance to Krivda’s burly, growling tenor sound. “Valse Hot,” from the pen of saxophone legend Sonny Rollins, features Sean Jones on trumpet; the Krivda/Jones front line plays the melody straight at first, then the saxophonist goes into his solo with as much energy and verve as Rollins did, threatening to take the tune apart without quite doing so, giving way to Jones’ contrastingly smooth, bright-hued solo. Krivda’s approach–his bold, muscular sound–says he is not a musician who lacks for confidence. His style is to explode with force-of-nature power, much in the way that the late tenor sax great Dexter Gordon did; and it’s Gordon’s tune, “Fried Bananas,” again featuring Jones, that cooks hotter than an almost out-of-control grease fire. After his distinctive takes on the American Songbook and jazz standards, Krivda offer up two excellent original compositions: “One for Willie,” for the late saxophonist/composer Willie Smith; and “Blues for Pekar,” for jazz lover and critic Harvey Pekar. Both swing hard, with bassist Marion Hayden carving a deep groove on the former, and trumpeter Farinacci–after a somewhat laidback opening salvo–sounding almost as hot as the leader on the latter. It’s CDs like Blues for Pekar that keep mainstream jazz vital and exciting. Blues for Pekar: Reviewed by Dan McClenaghan, All About Jazz.
Ernie Krivda’s latest CD titled Blues for Pekar, features three generations of bebop all stars as Cleveland-based Krivda enters his sixth decade as a performer. Released on Capri Records, Blues for Pekar was made possible by a community partnership for the Arts and Cultural Creative Workforce Fellowship which is funded by Ohio’s Cuyahoga County’s tobacco taxes. The $20,000 grant received through the fellowship sparked the album that pays homage to the American Splendor author and jazz writer/critic Harvey Pekar. On the album, tenor saxophonist Krivda is joined by his Detroit Connection, which is comprised of 78-year-old pianist Claude Black, who is from the second surge of Detroit bebop stars of the late 1940s and 50s, bassist Marion Hayden, who is considered to be the “matriarch of Detroit jazz musicians,” drummer Renell Gonsalves, who is a significant part of the Detroit jazz and bop fold and the son of longtime Duke Ellington tenor man Paul, young trumpet phenomenon Sean Jones, who was the lead trumpeter at the Lincoln Center for 10 years under Wynton Marsalis and another young rising star, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci. Both Jones and Farinacci were mentored by Krivda in the Tri-C High School Jazz Program at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland. The album’s opening track titled, “The End of a Love Affair,” starts off with spirited tenor saxophone work from Krivda, Jones and Farinaci’s superb trumpet play with Gonsalves’ drums playing gently in the background. Krivda repeats the same melody several times possibly musically signifying the recurring encounters during the tryst as Black’s piano begins, lightly accompanied by Gonsalves’ drums in the background. “More Than You Know,” the albums second track, begins with sultry piano playing from Black and tenor saxophone from Krivda. Krivda’s incredible prowess on his instrument is exhibited throughout the track as he holds certain notes for extended periods of time and then they trail off. This gives the track a somber tone as Black’s piano can be heard softly in the background as well as Hayden’s bass and Gonsalves’ drums. The third track, “Valse Hot,” is a rarely played Sonny Rollins’ classic. Krivda’s tenor saxophone along with Jones and Farinacci’s trumpets lead off with a sprightly musical concoction as Black’s piano and Gonsalves’ drums enter faintly in the background. At sporadic times during the track, Krivda pauses his tenor sax and Black’s tickling of the ivories become predominant, as does Gonsalves’ drumming. The sixth track titled, “One for Willie,” is a Krivda original that is dedicated to Cleveland native and international jazz titan Willie Smith. The track begins with a spry melody from Gonsalves’ druming and Krivda’s tenor saxophone. Gonsalves has a short drum solo near the start of the track and then Krivda’s tenor saxophone becomes dominant. Haydens bass can be heard in the background while Krivda brings forth a catch tune as Black’s piano folds in. The seventh and final track on Blues for Pekar is the title track. Authoritative pulses from Gonsalves’ drums and Krivda’s tenor sax initiate the track accompanied by Hayden’s deep bass notes. This track has a big band feel as Krivda wails away on his tenor saxophone as Black’s piano is right alongside. Gonsalves’ drumming is a mainstay as Jones and Farinacci’s trumpeting takes center stage with Hayden’s bass continuing in the background. In conclusion, Blues for Pekar, from Ernie Krivda, brings veteran and up and coming jazz marvels together to honor a true jazz treasure. Blues for Pekar: Reviewed by Sari N. Kent, The Celebrity Cafe.
Ernie’s 2011 release, in which he pays tribute to writer Harvey Pekar, continues his the tenor saxophonist’s potent improvisational development. Listening to his fluent invention, it is sometimes hard to accept that Ernie must now be categorized as an elder statesman of jazz. Certainly, his drive and enthusiasm resembles that of a musician from a younger generation. Speaking of which, some of his admirable companions here belong to an earlier generation. The core quartet here features Detroit stars veteran pianist Claude Black, bassist Marion Hayden and drummer Renell Gonsalves (son of Paul). Added to this on some tracks are trumpeters Sean Jones and Dominick Farinacci. All of these CDs are fine examples of Ernie’s work and all that is good in contemporary music. The new release is especially attractive and likely to have a wide appeal to fans of all that is good in today’s jazz. Blues For Pekar (Capri 74110-2) Reviewed by, Bruce Crowther,
Harvey Pekar was the quirkiest of modern American icons. His comic book series, “American Splendor,” became a cult classic and spawned a biographical movie of the same name. Known as the “Cleveland Curmudgeon,” Pekar was a staunchly independent person who lived in the downtrodden city on Lake Erie. Another Cleveland resident and Pekar friend, Ernie Krivda, pays tribute to the late comic artist on this disc. Pekar called Krivda “one of the best tenor sax men in the world,” and while that might be a minor overstatement, this disc shows that regional talent reaches beyond its borders. He is note-y and strong, with a deep-rooted bop sensibility as he plays both bop covers and his own retro-sounding tunes. He’s joined by a batch of Detroit boppers, including 78-year-old pianist Claude Black. It’s a fine group playing approachable tunes, like Dexter Gordon’s fun “Fried Bananas” (which includes slick solos by Krivda and guest trumpeter Sean Jones), and Sonny Rollins’s “Valse Hot.” The title track is a blues groover that features a smokin’ solo by guest trumpeter Dominick Farinacci Overall, it’s a good chance to hear this upper Midwest talent paying tribute to a true, one-of-a-kind personality. Reviewed by, George Fendel, Jazz  Society of Oregon, (2011)


“Tenor Saxophonist Ernie Krivda is one of the best kept secrets in Jazz. Not many people recognize his name because Krivda developed his career in Cleveland, instead of Chicago or New York, major cities often associated with jazz.” Wilbert Sostre,


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