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Album Review: Afterplay
Brian Kelly
Cover image of the album Afterplay by Brian Kelly
Brian Kelly
2008 / SkyLight Music
49 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Afterplay is pianist/composer Brian Kelly’s follow-up to his exceptional 2004 debut, Pools of Light. Bright and upbeat, Afterplay provides a bit of sonic optimism in these days of uncertainty and change. Don’t get me wrong - this is far from ear candy or sugary fluff. More jazz than new age, Kelly has created a collection of eleven rhythmically and melodically complex pieces that are easily accessible for casual listening yet provide a substantial and sensual auditory experience for many repeated plays. Brian Kelly appears on piano, keyboards, percussion, penny whistle, and voice, and is joined by Eric Crystal on sax, David Rokeach on drums, Ross Wilson on brass, Carol Alban and Viviana Guzman on flute, James Robinson on guitar, and Tim Bolling on additional percussion.

Afterplay begins with “River Rush,” a piece that is both energetic and leisurely. Piano and percussion give the silky sax a slight edge, providing an enticing opening to the musical pleasures that follow. “Smiling South” is one of my favorites. Beginning with an infectious rhythm and a playful piano intro, this piece dances and swirls with a joyful energy. Ross Wilson adds additional color and pizzaz with trumpet and trombone - love it! “New Vision” slows down the pace a bit, but maintains an upbeat, easy-going mood. “Snowflakes” Rising” is a gentle, sparkling musical confection - another favorite. I also really like “Flavor Seven,” again playful and full of fun with just a touch of mystery. The title track brings back the sax along with piano and some catchy rhythms - smooth jazz with a gentle bite. “Heaven On Earth” is a gorgeous trio for piano and two flutes. As the title implies, it conveys a blissful, floating feeling that is pure musical peace. “Stone Shine” features Kelly on a variety of keyboards along with guitar and percussion. Rhythmic and a little on the dark side, its playful energy is infectious. “Sunchaser” closes the CD as it began, easy and joyful with a toe-tapping rhythm and a warm sense of contentment.

Brian Kelly has outdone himself with his second release. If you haven’t yet heard Pools of Light, be sure to pick up a copy of that one, too - the two CDs complement each other exceptionally well. Brian promises a solo piano release in 2009 as well as more piano sheet music, so we’ll be hearing from him often in the coming months - very good news, indeed! Hopefully we’ll get an interview in there, too! Afterplay is a real treat for the ears and is good for the soul as well. It’s available from briankelly.com, amazon.com, and cdbaby.com. Very highly recommended!
November 2, 2008
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Kathy's Favorites: 2008