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Album Review: Simply Grand 2
Gary Clark
Cover image of the album Simply Grand 2 by Gary Clark
Simply Grand 2
Gary Clark
1998 / Gary Clark
Review by Kathy Parsons
This second in a series of “Simply Grand” collections of piano solo arrangements is perhaps even more accessible than the first to those who enjoy covers of pop songs, show tunes, and jazz standards played in a showy “club” style with lots of arpeggios, glissandos, and keyboard flourishes. Hold on - that’s the piano teacher in me sneaking out again. Several of the tracks are pieces that I teach over and over, and I personally would not choose them to listen to for pleasure. So let me back up and try this again. I know there is a very large and ardent market for these kinds of collections, and I have to say that Gary Clark does them better than most pianist/arrangers that I have heard. I always find it amazing that people still love hearing pieces like the love themes from “The Godfather” and “Ice Castles” or staples like “People” and “Love Is a Many Splendored Thing”, but from the number of parents who ask me to teach them to their kids and the adult students who make them a goal for themselves, I’d have to say that these pieces still evoke a very positive response from many. I truly enjoy the less familiar selections on this CD - “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” is certainly not obscure, but it isn’t one I hear all the time. “The Nearness of You” by Hoagy Carmichael is my favorite on this set - a warm and tender love song given an elegant treatment. Also included in the collection are three songs from “Les Miserables” - always nice to hear - a couple of Michel Legrand tunes, a couple of standards, and “Amazing Grace”. It’s an eclectic mix, but blends smoothly if you are looking for some classy background piano music to dine, visit, or relax to. If these are some of your favorite songs, you’ll be in heaven, as Gary Clark has a refined and tasteful style that is a cut above most light or easy-listening pianists.
February 1, 1998
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