current listening: 11/27/10

Can’t really explain why, but Thanksgiving week guided me back to these sublime solo piano works…

+ Liz Story: Night Sky Essays (2005) – Like Story’s fine Windham Hill recordings, Night Sky Essays – 12 pieces, each composed for a specific zodiacal sign – is a direct, emotive and at times atmospheric blend of folk and jazz stategies. The album emerged with almost zero fanfare five years ago. Sadly, Story has all but disappeared since then.

+ Yngve Goddal and Roger T. Matte: Genesis for Two Grand Pianos, Vols. 1 & 2 – (2010) – Yngve who? Roger what? Don’t worry, the pianists underscore their anonymity by purposely omitting their names from the cover credits so as to fully promote a fascinating concept – interpretations of Genesis’ most prog-ish music performed on only two pianos.

+ Matthew Shipp: Creation Out of Nothing (2010) – A double-disc outing pulled from a February 2009 concert in Moscow by one of today’s most inventive piano improvisers. Musically, Shipp possesses the playfulness of Thelonious Monk with the daring of Cecil Taylor. But when Shipp’s own piano voice is asserted, as on Patmos, Creation shines.

+ Chuck Leavell: Forever Blue (2001) – The longtime Rolling Stones pianist offers a solo piano set that reflects his rich Southern background. Echoes of blues, ragtime, boogie woogie, jazz and more surface. But Forever Blue is at its best when it regally mixes such melodic sounds, as on Leavell’s decades-old Sea Level tune, A Lotta Colada.

+ Keith Jarrett: The Carnegie Hall Concert (2006) – Not the best solo piano concert album cut by Jarrett (although it’s close), but certainly the best recorded. Carnegie Hall provides every storm-gathering soundscape, every fanciful turn and every vocal grunt with the clarity only a great record label (ECM) and ever greater concert hall can provide.

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