Marc Cary has gained a reputation as one of the most creative pianists of our time, a bandleader with musical interests that encompass jazz, go-go, hip-hop, electronic music, Indian classical music and more. But Cary is also an incisive and sought-after accompanist, a fact famously borne out by his 12-year tenure (beginning in 1994) with the great vocalist, songwriter and jazz icon Abbey Lincoln.
For the Love of Abbey (Motema Music), Cary’s first solo piano recording, is the most personal and heartfelt of tributes, shedding light on Lincoln’s remarkable body of work and honoring her extraordinary gift for melody and song craft.
“Abbey’s compositions are worthy of an instrumental approach because they’re so rich and lend themselves to be interpreted as instrumentals,” says Cary in a news release.
Cary’s tenure with Lincoln was longer than that of any other pianist. And Cary was following in the footsteps of the very best: Mal Waldron, Hank Jones, Wynton Kelly and Kenny Barron, among others.
“I try not to freak myself out by saying, ‘Wow, now I’m the one,'” Cary reflects. “It made me feel good but it didn’t influence me in any way, because Abbey wanted something new, something in the moment.”
Even when paring down to solo piano on For the Love of Abbey, Cary makes music of great orchestrational variety and depth. Still, he heeds the wisdom of Lincoln herself, who would often admonish him with the words: “It’s a simple song.” As Cary says, “With Abbey I had to play differently than I did. It changed my whole perspective. I learned how to deconstruct myself.”
Asked for the single most valuable lesson he got from Abbey Lincoln, Cary responds: “Learning how to shed things you don’t need, and claim what is yours.”