Favorite Icon, Full size
Album Review: Active Imagination
Cover image of the album Active Imagination by Isadar
Active Imagination
1999 / Mainya Music
43 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
I love this CD! It constantly amazes me how many outstanding composer/pianists there are out there - especially in relation to the few who are highly (commercially)successful within this broad genre. I would say that Active Imagination definitely belongs near the top of the heap. Isadar’s style is original, and his pianism is excellent. He lists his inspirations as Liz Story, Keith Jarrett, and Bill Evans, and I can hear traces of all three in his playing, but find his composing and playing styles to be uniquely his own. The first three tracks are lively and upbeat (“Active Imagination”, “Throwing the Dice”, and “Where the Wild Things Are”) with an easy, jazzy, improvised feel. The meter changes are fascinating, and the bluesy beat on “Wild Things” is infectious. From there, the mood seems to gradually darken and become more introspective. “Waiting” is a beautiful, flowing mood piece full of questions and a lovely melody line. Isadar’s cover of Liz Story’s “Wedding Rain” is wonderful - this is a piece I often work on with my advanced students, and everything about Isadar’s interpretation of the piece seems right without being a carbon-copy of Liz’s recording. “Feu Follett (The ‘Spook’ Light’)” has a nice, easy flow with a strong sense of mystery; it also has an unusual rhythm that lightens the mood and adds a bounce. “Uncertainty” is cooler and more aloof, but gorgeous in its flowing introspection - that it ends with a major chord, feels like the soul-searching has had positive results. “Love Chaconne” is the closing track, and is the longest and most abstract piece on the CD. The left hand plays a repeated pattern while the right hand goes off in several different directions (one of the primary characteristics of a “chaconne”). Beautiful in its simplicity, this is the only track that seems to contain an element of pain and sorrow, but never dissolves into melodrama. Active Imagination is excellent from start to finish and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes solo piano with substance and complexity, but is still accessible, melodic, and rhythmic. Bravo amundo!
August 8, 1999
This review has been tagged as:
Kathy's Favorites: 1999
More reviews of Isadar albums