2016 / Nick DeCesare
Review by Kathy Parsons
Openings is the debut album by Nick DeCesare, an exceptional pianist/composer from New Castle, PA. DeCesare started teaching himself to play the piano when he was seventeen, and then studied with private teachers before being accepted to the Mary Pappert School of Music at Duquesne University, where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Piano Performance in 2015. Debut albums are sometimes all over the place, demonstrating the artist’s proficiency in various styles and techniques, but DeCesare keeps his first album smooth and on an even keel. A variety of emotions and experiences are very competently expressed in the thirteen piano solos, but the music stays smooth with light jazz elements throughout. I really liked this album after only a few tracks and the more I listened to it, the more impressed I was and am. I think we have a keeper here!
Openings begins with a short “Prologue: Anthem” that sets the mood for the rest of the album. Almost hymn-like, it’s a warm and gentle welcome. “Grace Rapids” reminds me a little of Scott Cossu, one of my all-time favorite pianists. Relaxed and a little playful, it’s a favorite. “Joy” isn’t so much dancing on a star as it is floating on a fluffy cloud feeling free and absolutely blissful. With a flowing left hand and a sweet melody, “Morning” expresses a warm sense of optimism at the start of a new day. “Farewell” is a wistful slow waltz - poignant and sincere. “Ocean Waltz” picks up the tempo a bit, describing the gentle movements and colors of a peaceful ocean - love it! My favorite track is the gorgeous “Lullabye.” Overflowing with warmth and love, this soothing piece could melt rocks! “In Love” expresses a quiet euphoria that can send the heart soaring. A sanctuary can be a place of worship in a church, but it can also be a place were someone feels safe and protected, and DeCesare’s “Sanctuary” could easily be describing either one. Calm and reflective, it’s a peaceful beauty! “Epilogue: Return” closes the album similarly to the way it started - with a shorter hymn-like piece that wishes you well.
Nick DeCesare is off to a great start with Openings, and I look forward to hearing much more from this very promising pianist/composer. The album is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Highly recommended!
June 19, 2016