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Album Review: Heartwork
Jesse Brown
Cover image of the album Heartwork by Jesse Brown
Jesse Brown
2014 / Jesse Brown
47 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Heartwork is Canadian pianist/composer Jesse Brown’s second solo piano album. It was released in 2014, but Brown was not an artist that I was familiar with until just recently. I reviewed his Christmas album, December, first and was totally impressed, so I’ve been anxious to get familiar with his original music. I’m delighted to say that his fourteen original piano solos on Heartwork are at least as impressive as his arrangements!

Brown has been a lifelong pianist who is well-versed in a wide variety of musical styles and genres. He has performed in many different venues, has been a session player, and has performed with bands and in musicals. He refers to his own teaching studio as “Jesse Brown’s Musicscool,” a title I wish I had thought of! The music on Heartwork is varied, ranging from strong classical influences to jazz, blues, pop and ambient. The Saskatchewan Arts Board gave Brown financial support for the creation of this album. Brown then notated the fourteen pieces and all of them were added to the Conservatory Canada Syllabus (a review of the sheet music will be along very shortly!). Jesse Brown was recently accepted as a Whisperings Artist, so I think his time of being a relatively unknown artist outside of his own corner of the world is about to end!

Heartwork begins with “Walk With Me,” a gracefully-flowing lyrical piece that hints of a bit of Chopin - but just a bit. “Prairie Wind” suggests the French Impressionists and Erik Satie - free and very expressive. “Away” is more contemporary - uncluttered but still very evocative with soft, muted tonal colors. “Moonrise” is peaceful and very calming, played with a freedom that sometimes sounds improvised. “Banished” is very slow, spare and dark, expressing loneliness and sadness with a sense of isolation. A passage near the end becomes louder - most likely anger and frustration - and then returns to the mood of the earlier sections. “Morning Bird” is calmer and much lighter, styled more like a folk song. “Firelight” is magical and hypnotic - calming yet brightly passionate. “Special Moon” reminds me a bit of some of Neil Patton’s spirited piano solos with interesting and unusual rhythms and harmonies. “Woolly Moose” is a rather whimsical blues piece that sounds like great fun to play! “Ephrem’s Song” begins very slowly and gradually gathers energy as it progresses. Dark and gospel-tinged, it’s a favorite. “The End” returns to a more classical style - gentle, lyrical and very expressive. “Sunday Morning” is beautifully slow and lazy, comfortable and contented, ending this excellent album with a happy sigh.

Heartwork is an exceptionally good album from the first note to the last! It is available from www.JesseBrown.net, Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. Very highly recommended!
December 28, 2016
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