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Album Review: Impromptu
Neil Patton
Cover image of the album Impromptu by Neil Patton
Neil Patton
2007 / Neil Patton
47 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Impromptu is Neil Patton’s second album of original compositions, following his 1998 debut, Horizon. Impromptu is solo piano except for the closing track, which is keyboard/synth. A 1994 honors graduate from the University of Oregon School of Music, Patton is a very versatile performer, composer, arranger, songwriter, and piano teacher. He is also a part-time Pastor of Worship Arts at his church in Eugene, Oregon. His compositions on Impromptu reflect this varied background by combining elements of classical, jazz, pop, and new age stylings. By definition, an “impromptu” is a free-form composition in an extemporized style, and while there is structure to Patton’s music, it does have a spontaneous feeling about it.

Impromptu begins with “Toccata,” a lively and flowing piece in a musical form that dates back to the sixteenth century and calls for an improvisational style. This piece lets us know from the first notes that we’re listening to a pianist who really knows what he’s doing! “First Steps” celebrates the birth of a child and the ups and downs that come with new life. Tender yet passionate, this melodic piece conveys its message simply and from the heart. “Stars” is a favorite. It was edited from a recorded improvisation and also has a companion video that is viewable on Patton’s website (neilpatton.net). Completely relaxed and free, this piece provides a soothing massage for the mind. I also really like “Prayer for New Wind.” The first section is a cry from someone in the midst of a personal crisis. As the piece evolves over 6 1/2 minutes, one feels that a sense of direction and even joy gradually return as the prayer is answered. Very heartfelt! “Looking Back” is a tribute to Patton’s musical mentor for many years. Composed in a theme and variations style, it begins simply with childlike innocence. Each variation on the theme becomes a bit more sophisticated before closing with the original theme. “Jig” is “bigger” and livelier, again demonstrating what an outstanding pianist Patton is. Fun! “Catherine” can only be described as deeply moving love song to Patton’s wife - another favorite! “Dawn” closes the album with an ambient and ethereal piece that suggests the wonder and magic of a new day. An unedited improvisation played with a variety of keyboard sounds, it ends the album with feelings of peace, serenity, and hope.

Impromptu is highly recommended if you enjoy a bit more complexity and substance in your piano music. It is available from neilpatton.net, Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.
August 8, 2010
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