David Glass & Francis Martineau
2023 / David Glass
Review by Kathy Parsons
Windfall is the fourth collaborative album by pianists David Glass and Francis Martineau, and is a collection of seven spontaneous improvisations created during two consecutive one-hour sessions. David is a longtime piano teacher in the SF Bay Area who is also known for his improvisations with Justin Levitt, several of which were complied into a film called Bootleg - The Movie (2022). David and Francis have been creating improvised duets for more than twenty years, and this album was recorded with Francis' 105-year-old Bechstein grand piano in his home in Southern CA. David and Francis plan to release Windfall on vinyl later this year.
David Glass explains their process:
"The challenge put before us is finding common ground musically. We are two completely different musicians with opposite backgrounds in our music development. A challenge indeed, not to mention the fact that we only play together once a year.... We are...surrendering to where the music is taking us.
"Windfall is a collection of both accessible and provocative tracks. This is not a jazz, blues, rock album nor is it an easy listening piano album. It’s David Glass and Francis Martineau music!"
Windfall begins with "Reverie," my favorite piece on the album. David begins with a 2 1/2 minute solo improvisation before Francis joins in at the upper end of the piano, adding delicate "filigree" to the music. Both peaceful and serene, the piece provides almost 8 1/2 minutes of dreamy piano bliss. "Descent" is much darker, and was inspired in part by David's experiences scuba diving. David plays mostly in the lower half of the piano, often suggesting the various rhythms and movements of the water, as Francis' light staccato notes in the upper end of the piano often suggest small fish swimming. The piece goes through quite an evolution from beginning to end, including a possible encounter with some sort of sea monster! "Play/Time" is very light and fanciful, suggesting the innocence of children having fun. There are also "ticking" sounds throughout the piece that suggest the sound of clocks - the "time" part of the title. "Cosmic Circus" almost wasn't included on the album because Francis felt that the improvisation was lacking in substance. Thinking it wasn’t going to be on the album, David decided to have some fun with it and turned it into a completely different piece. Francis loved the end result, which is bright and lively as well as otherworldly. It's a really fun piece and another favorite, and has also been released as a single. "Dreams of Fulfillment" returns to a much smoother, quieter setting that increases the energy level near the end. "Outlander" is in two parts. The first half has David playing a quiet, mostly two-chord pattern with Francis improvising at the top half of the piano keyboard. Dark and somewhat mysterious, it's a compelling start! "The second part we deviate from the simple chord progression and introduce a type of musical anarchy where things begin to fall apart and the character of the music becomes more chaotic." Yep, it certainly does that, but it's an interesting exploration! The album closes with "Oasis," a darkly mysterious yet very beautiful piece with a number of effects (plucked strings, strings "damped" with David's hand, etc.), that give it a mystical quality that is sometimes rather foreboding. I really like this one, too!
Windfall is available to stream or download from Amazon and Apple Music/iTunes as well as many of the streaming platforms, including Spotify. It's not likely to put you to sleep, but it's a fascinating musical journey!
September 23, 2023