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May 2011

Local Music:
Finding Solace in Song

Jazz pianist Jordan Gravel self-soothes on Inner Preservation

When life beats you down, how do you get back up? For jazz pianist Jordan Gravel, you create Inner Preservation. “Music is beautiful in so many ways,” he says, “and it can heal not only the listener but the musician as well.”

Gravel experienced that restorative power firsthand while wrecked with back problems so painful he couldn’t properly grieve when one of his grandfathers passed away. “Until I had my back brace removed I couldn’t reflect on what he meant to me,” says the musician who wrote “After” while processing the absence of his elder.  

A native of Marblehead, Massachusetts, Gravel grew up playing the blues, then moved south to study jazz performance at the College of Charleston. And while Gravel’s love of bebop, swing, and modern jazz is evident on the new album, hints of his heroes—Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, and Bill Evans—bubble up alongside quirky melodic flourishes that call to mind myriad pop artists from Bjork to Roy Orbison, Jeff Buckley, and others.

That’s in part thanks to longtime bandmates Stuart White (drums) and Ben Wells (bass), who provide perfect rhythmic complements that allow Gravel to riff as he wishes. Rising above some of life’s more unsettling moments—the longing for the dearly departed, and more—Gravel has arrived as a musician undeniably well-preserved.

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