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Album Review: For the Beauty of the Earth
Bradley Sowash
Cover image of the album For the Beauty of the Earth by Bradley Sowash
For the Beauty of the Earth
Bradley Sowash
2004 / Bradley Sowash
56 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
For the Beauty of the Earth is the third volume in Bradley Sowash’s trilogy of solo piano jazz arrangements of hymns and spirituals. There are ten new tracks and four bonus tracks of previously re-leased songs from other albums. Sowash has a real gift for taking these mostly-familiar church tunes and giving them new life, keeping the melodies intact, but changing rhythms, adding improvisational passages, and infusing them with pure spiritual joy. An extraordinary pianist, Sowash’s technique, skills, and heart allow him to freely express himself in many different styles and genres, making him one of the best “piano guys” out there.

“Glory, Glory Hallelujah” has an infectious boogie woogie beat and dances right out of the CD player. “For the Beauty of the Earth” begins traditionally, and then Sowash improvises on the theme, allowing the music to go where it will, with the melody weaving in and out - a really nice arrangement! “Shall We Gather By the River” is darker and more introspective - also very effective. “Just As I Am/ Sanctus” is given a bluesy treatment that really works. “This Little Light of Mine” was a surprise. This is possibly the most improvised of the pieces on the album. I have always thought of this as a children’s hymn, and this arrangement has a much more “seasoned” flavor that I really like. “Go Down Moses” is dark, rhythmic, and also very improvised - my favorite track. Other titles include “Doxology,” “Amazing Grace,” “America,” and “By and By.”

This is obviously not a standard collection of “pretty” hymns played on the piano. These arrangements are bold and very personal musical statements by someone who knows and understands the piano and the music inside out. I love all three volumes in this series, and kind of hate to see it end. For the Beauty of the Earth is available from bradleysowash.com, cdbaby.com, and amazon.com. Highly recommended!
June 28, 2005
This review has been tagged as:
Hymn ArrangementsJazz