After a very long career with Narada (his Pianoscapes was the first recording released by the label in 1984), Michael Jones has established his own label and released his first independent album, Echoes of Childhood
. Jones has been known for his improvised recordings, and I have to admit that some of his earlier work left me a little cold. However, I love this album! A bit more structured and “composed,” Echoes wonderfully balances the freedom of spontaneous creation with. the polish of musical ideas that have been developed a bit before recording. And what an incredible instrument Jones uses to record these musical stories and ideas! The high end of the Bosendorfer absolutely sparkles, and the deep bass resounds with authority. Some of the tracks include subtle synth washes for color, but this is definitely a solo piano album. The eight tracks range in length from just over four minutes to almost seventeen, allowing the listener to get lost in the music. Some of the compositions are darker than I remember hearing from Jones in the past, which makes me think perhaps Narada was “type-casting” him a bit. With his own label, Jones is now free to “paint” with a broader range of colors and textures.
Echoes of Childhood
is based on a story by William Wordsworth, and “traces the timeless and eternal human journey from innocence found to to innocence lost and innocence regained” (quoted from Jones’ website). The album opens with the light and breezy “Song of the Wood Thrush,” a very gentle piece with a simple melody line and catchy rhythm. “Call to the Dance” starts out full of energy, and weaves together several musical themes in a rich improvisation that covers a range of emotions, from joy to reflection to melancholy. “In Dark Wood Lost” is my favorite piece in this collection. Dark, haunting, and very introspective, the passion and sense of searching in this piece go right to the heart. The title track follows, with a strong feeling of hope and inner calm. “New Born Day” is full of the joy of rebirth, and some of the passages remind me of children laughing. One of the longer improvisations, the piece dances and sparkles with childlike innocence.
Excellent from start to finish, Echoes of Childhood
will take you on a wonderful journey. Very highly recommended. It is available from pianoscapes.com