The Naked Piano
is Gary Girouard’s debut album, and it’s a winner! As the title suggests, the 9’ Steinway grand piano is recorded live and the music is without edits, effects, or embellishments. Girouard describes his music as “’classic piano’ - sort of like taking the coat and tie off ‘classical’ and blending it with pop. It is certainly targeted at an adult audience seeking an escape from hectic lifestyles.” Girouard’s classical training is apparent, as are various pop and smooth jazz influences. The tone of the CD is fairly consistent, making it an easy backdrop for other activities, but the music is varied and interesting enough to keep an active listener involved all the way through. Inspiration for the music came from universal themes such as love, peace, family, hope, nature, and spirit, and the themes are both deeply personal and easy to relate to.
My favorite track is “Renaissance,” an improvisation done during the recording sessions that is meant to capture the mysterious mood of the abandoned performance hall. Slightly bluesy and very bittersweet with a fluid rubato rhythm, there seems to be a lot of questions being asked with no clear-cut answers. I really like this piece a lot - not only is the piano naked, but so are the pianist’s emotions. “Florence” is a very beautiful piece that was inspired by the year Girouard spent living in Italy. Gently flowing, like the Arno River that surrounds the city, this piece is very relaxed, but has the feeling of moving forward. “Trilogy” was composed two months before the 9/11 tragedy, and is based on the simple melody of a wind chime. The uncluttered and peaceful nature of the piece reflect an innocent serenity. “Black Goose” is a bit jazzier, and is named for a “hip” Boston restaurant. Cool and casual, it tells a leisurely story - good stuff! “Opus” was composed in 1990 as a surprise for the composer’s mother. Dark, and a bit more classical than the other eight pieces, “Opus” displays Girouard’s playing chops more than some of the other works, although he certainly isn’t grandstanding! At just over eight minutes, the piece has a chance to meander and go where it wants, developing various themes and musical thoughts as it evolves.
The Naked Piano
is an excellent CD and a very promising debut from Gary Girouard. Sound samples and other info are available from nakedpiano.com