A Quiet Moment
1985 / Dolce & Nuit Productions
Review by Kathy Parsons
A Quiet Moment was the debut album by pianist/composer Matt Johnson. Released in 1985, the seven original piano solos eloquently express a range of emotions with an honesty that belies the artist’s young age at the time (23). Even at that age, it was already apparent that Johnson had a background in both classical music and jazz, and he was well on his way to developing a distinctive style of his own.
Johnson started piano lessons at the age of six, earned his Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance from Oklahoma Baptist University, and completed a Master of Music degree in Composition and Jazz Studies with a Distinction in Performance from New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in 1987. Johnson has released a large body of recorded music and sheet music, all of which is offered as free downloads from his website. He is also a busy piano teacher in his own teaching studio in Florida.
A Quiet Moment begins with “Dance of Joy,” which is far from being a giddy happy dance. This dance expresses a deeper joy that moves the spirit and can last a lifetime. Some of the passages are slow and soulful while others are livelier and more upbeat - a wonderful beginning! “Dee Dee’s Song” is a slow, expressive waltz with a touch of melancholy and, perhaps, longing - lovely! The title “E Major Jam” sounds like it might be a bigger jazz piece, but it’s actually quite calm and has just a touch of country flavor. “Aloneness” is a beautiful ballad that overflows with emotion - something of a soliloquy that could have been created late at night by the light of a candle - a favorite. The title track is another favorite. A bit lighter than “Aloneness,” it has a flowing left hand and a graceful, lilting melody on the right - very expressive! At nearly eleven minutes, “Changing Images” is a major work (it’s 26 pages in the songbook!) and is basically in a theme and variations format. From very open and spare to bold, flashy and dramatic, it’s an extraordinary piece and clearly demonstrates Johnson’s command of his instrument and his ability to play in a wide spectrum of tonal colors. Both reflective and evocative, “The Beckoning” brings the album to a close with a heartfelt and passionate story without words.
What a great debut album! Fellow pianists will be happy to know that there is a companion sheet music book and single sheets for this and most of Matt Johnson’s recordings available for free download on his website. The album is also available from Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby. It’s truly a “golden oldie”!
June 5, 2019