2018 / DuffieldMusic
Review by Kathy Parsons
Forever-green is a collection of nine original piano solos by Jeff Duffield, an artist affectionately known as “The Chord King” by his contemporaries. A pianist, composer, session keyboardist, arranger and producer, Duffield has more than forty years of professional experience and more than 500 album credits in all styles of music. He describes this album as “neo-classical pieces with jazz, gospel, and Celtic influences,” and I would add that it has an effortless virtuosity akin to pianist-extraordinaire Michael Dulin’s. Warm and very expressive, this album can easily slip into the background, but it should be really listened to for a full appreciation of the artistry of the pianist and the beauty of the music.
Jeff Duffield started playing the piano at the age of eight and was classically-trained. He played on his first recording session at the age of thirteen. He studied orchestral arranging at the Berklee School of Music and maintains a reputation as one of the most versatile and prolific pianists in contemporary jazz and gospel music. A New Jersey native, he lives in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee with his wife.
Forever-green begins with “An Angels Anthem,” a gentle and slightly bittersweet piece with some very impressive runs on the piano keyboard - a great opener! “Can’t Ever Forget” is an elegantly jazz-tinged ballad that tells a wonderful story without the use of any words. The title track makes very effective use of reverb to create a dreamy atmosphere and to soften any edges. “Majestic Pines” is a favorite. Like the trees of the title, the piece is sometimes slow, light and graceful and sometimes more commanding in its majesty. “Celtic Nights” is very calm and peaceful. In the middle of the piece, Duffield demonstrates his lightning-fast fingers on the piano, creating images of a multitude of sparkling stars in a black sky. I really like this one, too! “Proverbial Conversation” truly is conversational with a back-and-forth exchange much like sharing ideas or experiences with a friend. “The Rush of Waiting” gently describes the way time speeds up and slows down while waiting - whether it is a matter of minutes, hours, or years. Anticipation, perhaps a touch of boredom, excitement, and even a little bit of disappointment all seem to come through this fascinating and very beautiful piece. “Reign” is another song without words that tells a story that could be sacred or secular. Sometimes delicate and sometimes very powerful, it’s a very descriptive and emotive piece. The closing track, “The Sincerest Promise” is my favorite piece on the album. I like the sound of the piano best on this one, but really I love the way Duffield combines a fairly simple melody with lots of pianistic flourishes that enhance but never overpower that elegant simplicity.
As far as I know, this is the first time I’ve heard Jeff Duffield’s music. I’m really impressed and hope he’ll do some more solo piano albums in the future! Forever-green is available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Recommended!
May 21, 2018