2022 / 2980002 Records DK
Review by Kathy Parsons
Leap Year is the first album of original piano solos by Chicago-area pianist/composer John Goodwin, but John is no newbie to the music industry! A classically-trained pianist who plays and enjoys many styles of music, Goodwin has performed throughout the world both solo and in collaboration with other artists. A fan of new age music since the 1980s, he names Liz Story as his favorite artist in the genre, and her influence can be heard in some of the music on Leap Year. Most of the ten tracks are solo piano, and a few are more ambient with synth/keyboard enhancements. I really love the eclectic quality of the music and Goodwin's obvious mastery of his instrument(s). Leap Year is an album that reveals something new each time you listen to it yet is immediately accessible - an art in itself!
Goodwin explains his approach to the music: "As a big part of my daily practice routine, I usually warm up by improvising and going wherever my fingers want. This is how Leap Year started, by trying out ideas and expanding on them. The music itself grew out of our time in isolation in 2020 and 2021, and reflects what I and my family were going through."
Goodwin was a featured performer in five productions of the highly-respected multimedia series Beyond the Score with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and has performed with a very diverse group of artists. He often performs as a soloist and collaborator throughout Chicago and beyond, and has performed in a variety of US concert settings that include The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall, as well as concert halls in South America, Europe and Asia. He can also be heard on public radio stations playing the opening theme for Bill McGlaughlin’s popular program Exploring Music. Goodwin is currently a pianist for the Chicago Symphony Chorus, Principal Pianist/Conductor in Residence of the Chicago Children’s Choir, and pianist for the Roosevelt University Conservatory Chorus.
Leap Year begins with "Back Home," a beautifully nostalgic and wistful piece with a spontaneous, conversational feeling. Synth washes in the background create a dreamy, shimmering effect. This piece hooked me from the first time I heard it, and the album never let go! "Beacon" is also free and very expressive, flowing easily from one musical thought to another while remaining a cohesive whole - an amazing piece of music! "Road Trip" has tinges of gospel and blues here and there, but is overall very relaxed and unhurried - as a road trip should be! I really love this one! "Litany" goes a bit darker and deeper, voicing questions and thoughts via the piano keys rather than in words, and perhaps expressing them even more clearly in this way. I love this one, too! "Warrior" is about the death of Goodwin's father in December 2020. A farmer who lived near a town called Warrior, he was also in the Army in his younger years. As would be expected, "Warrior" expresses a variety of emotions and is a heartfelt tribute to someone very dear. "Memory Box" is stunning. Deeply reflective and nostalgic, grace and tenderness flow from every note. I really can't imagine anyone not being affected by "Memory Box"! The title track is bolder and more spirited, leaning a bit closer to jazz. Plucked bass strings add an interesting contrast to the music. The album closes with "Holding Pattern," a 9 1/2 minute ambient synth piece that is very peaceful and relaxed - almost like floating in space or cruising slowly on a puffy white cloud. It's a great finish to a great album!
Leap Year is available to stream or download on Amazon and Apple Music/iTunes as well as from the various streaming sites. Don't miss this one!
April 4, 2022