Touch the Sun
is the third installment of pianist Eric McCarl’s “Trilogy of Light,” a collection of original pieces written over the course of the past twenty years. The fifteen piano solos range from quiet and pensive to upbeat and jazzy, with the majority being more on the reflective side. Overall, this CD has a warmer, more contented mood than the two previous releases, although it certainly isn’t breezy. The music has enough structure to hold it together, and enough improvisation to make it feel spontaneous and in the moment. McCarl’s playing style is always expressive and full of color, and the sound of his piano is beautiful.
The CD opens with “Journey’s End,” a piece that has a sense of moving forward and also of looking inward. Perhaps triumph without victory as yet? The title track is a bit more ambient and floating, with lots of open space between the musical phrases. “Alone Place” is also very open and minimal, with the damper pedal creating an echo effect that is both lonely and chilling - this is definitely one of the darker tracks. “Soft Light” is very calming, peaceful, and gentle. Most of the notes are in the upper and middle registers on the piano, but McCarl brings in some deep bass notes here and there that give the piece a different dimension. I really like it! “Walk On Water” is another favorite. The first part is structured and melodic, and then segues into a more improvised section that seems both reverent and questioning. The simple rhythm is quietly intense, creating a sense of peace and calm. Very effective! My favorite piece is “Sun Goes Down,” which begins with a bluesy feeling and a slinky rhythm that is infectious. The piece is very free, but weighted by some deep bass accents. Some sections sound improvised, and the second half of the piece is more rubato with the original rhythm weaving in and out. My other favorite is “Blue Blue City,” which is rhythmic, jazzy, and very, very cool ( a double-entendre where both meanings are accurate!). The closing track, “Window SIll,” returns to a reflective mood with lots of open spaces between the musical thoughts, and passages that are full of passion - a serene way to end this impressive album and the Trilogy itself.
Having spent so much of his adult life working on the music for this project, it will be interesting to see where Eric McCarl goes next, musically. In the meantime, treat yourself to Touch the Sun
, Atlantis Lost
, and Seeking the Light
, aka “The Trilogy of Light.” This is music that is meant to be listened to, not relegated to the background. Find a comfy spot, close your eyes, and let the music take you away! It is available from ericmccarl.com
, cdbaby.com, and amazon.com. Recommended!