After The Rain
2017 / Tatar Associates
Review by Kathy Parsons
After The Rain is the third album from pianist/guitarist/composer Neil Tatar and is his second album recorded at Imaginary Road Studios. Co-produced by Tatar, Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton, the ten tracks include original piano and guitar solos as well as ensemble pieces that feature the talents of several of the stellar musicians who often accompany artists who record at Imaginary Road. Both of Tatar’s previous albums reached the #1 position on the ZMR Top 100 Global Radio Airplay charts and Tatar received ZMR’s “Best New Artist” award for 2015. I would certainly expect After The Rain to do just as well and will likely bring Tatar additional awards. The music is gentle, melodic and accessible enough for casual listening, but is also complex enough to stand up to many listens with full attention, revealing nuances and subtleties each time. Warm, soothing and relaxing, I’m sure this will be a go-to album for many people after a stressful day, to accompany an intimate dinner, or to enhance the beauty of a scenic drive (to name a few!).
After The Rain begins with “Gentle Steps,” a wonderful duet for piano and violin that features the always-excellent Charlie Bisharat. It begins as a quiet piano solo that feels a little bit tentative, treading carefully but gaining confidence with the violin’s support and encouragement - a great beginning! “Sunsets” has Tatar on acoustic guitar along with Bisharat on violin, Premik Russell Tubbs on sax, Tony Levin on bass, Jeff Haynes on percussion, Eaton on Hammond organ, and Noah Wilding’s wordless vocals. Dreamy and hypnotic in the first half of the piece, it picks up the tempo and tonal colors in the second with a more smooth jazz approach. “Reflections” puts Tatar back on the piano bench, this time collaborating with Jeff Oster on flugelhorn and Levin on bass. Peaceful and introspective, this one will quiet anyone’s world. “Rush Pond” is a favorite. A trio for piano, violin and cello (Eugene Friesen), there is a melancholy sense of longing that often comes with being in a really beautiful place. I get the feeling that it’s a dark night with the moon reflected in the pond as gentle ripples move across the surface of the water. My favorite track is “Night Walk,” a wonderfully haunting guitar piece plus the ensemble of Ackerman (guitar and rainstick), Tubbs (ewi), Eaton (piano and keyboard), Levin and Wilding. A dark, mysterious melody and an intoxicating rhythm merge as an unbeatable combination on this piece! Pieces with the theme of freedom are often buoyant and soaring, but Tatar’s “Freedom” is a very poignant and reflective duet for piano and English horn (Jill Haley) - also a favorite. The title track has Tatar on piano, Ackerman (guitar), Haley, Levin, Haynes, and vocals by Wilding as well as Tatar’s wife, Lini. Sometimes very quiet and dreamy and other times a bit more active and rhythmic, it paints a beautiful picture of a landscape or a garden refreshed by a spring rain. “Sidewalk Jam” is a breezy, light jazz piece for guitar, sax, bass and percussion and brings this excellent album to an upbeat close.
After The Rain is an album sure to please Tatar’s established fans and bring him a lot more new ones! It is available from Amazon and iTunes. Highly recommended!
January 16, 2018