David Alstead’s Piano For Both Ears
is a most impressive first recording. Strong classical influences are tempered with jazz chords and phrasing, and Alstead’s technique is flawless. His music is more complex than many contemporary pianists’, giving the careful listener something new to discover each time. That doesn’t mean that the music is inaccessible - it just goes way beyond musical fluff. There are several various styles, ranging from the baroque-styled “Classicalis” to the dark “Empty Well” to the upbeat flow of “Run of Good Fortune” to the jazzier two concluding tracks, “Seven Victor Two” and “Last Laugh.” Despite the variations in approach, the album holds together beautifully and allows us to get acquainted with the artist’s versatility.
Appropriately enough, the album opens with a flowing “Prelude” that gives us an idea of what’s coming. “Empty Well” is reflective and has a feeling of deep emotion perhaps coming of tragedy. It’s fascinating how the piece will go along in a classical mode and then some bluesy chords come in. This isn’t jarring at all, but points to the inventive nature of the composer. “River’s Edge” really feels like standing on a bank watching the flow of a river or stream. There are ripples and constant motion, and yet there is peace. “Beauty of the Norns” is a theme and variations, starting in an early classical style with the main theme, and moving seamlessly from one style to the next, keeping the theme intact and recognizable. “Run Of Good Fortune” is full of joy and fairly dances out of the cd player. There are swirling runs on the piano as the melody sings forth - beautiful! I also really like “Six Gypsies,” which hints of Dave Brubeck. “Can Aaron Come Out to Play?” hints at Vince Guaraldi with its playful rhythm and sense of fun. The last two tracks are my favorites. With a driving bass in the left hand, “Seven Victor Two” is much more jazz than classical. It has the freedom of an improvisation with the cohesiveness of a composed piece, and I love it! “Last Laugh” is a great ending, full of fun and a real toe-tapper.
I have thoroughly enjoyed getting acquainted with David Alstead’s music, and look forward to seeing where his musical path leads. Piano For Both Ears
is available from www.davidalstead.com
, amazon.com, and cdbaby.com. Recommended!