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Album Review: Impressions in Black and White
Jeff Bjorck
Cover image of the album Impressions in Black and White by Jeff Bjorck
Impressions in Black and White
Jeff Bjorck
2005 / Pure Piano
59 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Impressions in Black and White is pianist/composer/Renaissance-man Jeff Bjorck’s third release to date. While Bjorck’s first two albums were inspired by nature, most of the music from Impressions came primarily from his imagination. A clinical psychologist and professor at a theological seminary in Southern California, Dr. Bjorck always has a lot of diverse irons in the fire, and his music reflects those various influences. This is a mostly peaceful solo piano album, with a few more upbeat and energetic pieces that allow us to see another side of Bjorck’s musical personality. As he did on his first albums, he has framed his original compositions with two classic hymns, “Day By Day” and “Be Still My Soul,” which happens to be my favorite track on this CD.

“Feather’s Flight” is another favorite. With the left hand playing the part of a gentle breeze and the right hand a floating feather, this is truly an impressionistic piece that is hypnotic and soothing. “Walking With Tevye” is quite different. Referring to the lead character in “Fiddler On the Roof,” this is Bjorck’s idea of what it would be like to join the milkman on his delivery route. Very minor and Russian-sounding, this piece has a lot of energy behind its melancholy melody - a very interesting and enjoyable concept. “Return to Catskill Meadow” is a variation on a theme from an earlier piece, and is Bjorck at his best. The spaces between the notes are as important as the notes themselves, and the beautiful fluidity makes it feel like an inspired improvisation. One of my favorites of Bjorck’s previous works is “Desert Cloudburst” (now available in sheet music!), which so wonderfully describes a rainstorm in the desert. “Sun Shower” is similar with its percussive “fat” raindrops splashing on the ground and causing steam and rainbows - played with energy and enthusiasm. “All I See Is Air” is a tale of unrequited love that Bjorck originally composed when he was sixteen. Hope and longing fill this sad and touching piece. “First Carnival” is an autobiographical recollection of Bjorck’s own experience as an excited and hyperactive child, running breathlessly from ride to ride and to all of the exhibits. Light and full of fun, this may be a bit of a surprise for Bjorck’s fans, but I like it! “Swans” is another quiet, introspective composition that reflects the grace of a pair of swans gliding on the water as the sun sets - very peaceful and serene! The closing hymn, “Be Still My Soul” is breathtaking in its beauty. A favorite of both of his parents’ as well as his hero’s, this quiet hymn obviously has very deep meaning for Bjorck, and his arrangement is so emotional and personal that I was immediately enraptured by it. I could listen to this one all day!

Impressions in Black and White is one of those albums that gets better the more you listen to it - I like that kind of complexity! There is always something new each time you hear it. Recommended! It is available from www.purepiano.com, cdbaby.com, and amazon.com.
April 2, 2005
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