2006 / Pianoscapes
Review by Michael Debbage
Back in 2002, Michael Jones began his own label Pianoscapes with the release of the album Echoes of Childhood. Though he essentially held true to his no compromise improvisational roots, the album included some very subtle synthesized strings courtesy of Lance Anderson to flesh the music out ever so slightly. Though Lance continues to be present as a producer, the strings are not, making this album a sort of homecoming to the very essence of Michael Music…a palace of pure piano pleasures.
Jones opens the album in grand style courtesy of the fourteen minute delight, “Song For The Open Road”. His piano work is impeccable and at times the rhythm patterns are more in line with a soft strumming acoustic guitar. The melodies are inescapable and in some ways very familiar. That aside the duration of the track allows for plenty of movement for Jones to breathe chapters of music within his story. In addition, there are three additional tracks that run into double digit duration but with no sense of unnecessary meandering. It’s just Michael Jones sitting at his piano doing what he does best; caressing his keys to share his innermost being.
Of the few shorter compositions, at least in the context of Jones, there is the more jovial “I Hear The Earth Singing”. One can sense the choral use of the piano making this composition most praiseworthy. This is in sharp contrast to the ambling yet ambitiously subdued “Wanderings Of A Restless Soul” as Jones explores the entire range of his keyboard.
The album closes out much like it opens with the more optimistic “A World Made Fresh Again”. This seven minute musical composition brings to mind visions of a soft yet refreshing rain dance quenching and revitalizing Mother Earth. It has a supple yet vital pulse that invites you to softly sway with its gentle cadence. Along with the opening track, the bookends of Almost Home represent the albums finer moments, however, there are many fine chapters found within.
So, what can be said about one of the masters of improvisation that has not already been said? Not a whole lot as Almost Home continues to measure up with the already impressive musical portfolio that the Canadian pianist has created to date. Though many compare him to George Winston, and certainly there are some parallels, it would be much more appropriate to label this Michael Music, pure and simple.
September 9, 2006