Paul L. Fine
2011 / Paul L. Fine
Review by Kathy Parsons
Measuring Up is Paul L. Fine’s fifth album of original piano compositions, two of which were composed by Fine’s son, Benjamin. An Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, Dr. Fine has created a body of music that puts him in a class of his own. Charmingly upbeat and accessible yet meaty enough for those who like to really listen to their music, Fine composes in styles that include ragtime, blues, classical, and other slightly old-fashioned genres that recall much simpler and more innocent times. Fine’s liner notes always give great insight into the creation of the pieces and their often unusual titles, and this album is no exception. I’ve enjoyed all of Paul Fine’s albums, but I think this one is his best.
Measuring Up begins with “Midnight,” a dark and bluesy piece Fine enjoys playing late at night in a darkened room. Slow and slinky, this is one of my favorites on the album. Fine always includes at least one piece on each CD composed in a classical style, and “Rondo Classico” is that piece. Written in a somewhat Mozartian style, this multi-movement work is a charmer. “Alien Gerbil/ Anion Gap” combines the intro to a song Fine collaborated on with his three children several years ago with a new ragtime piece named for an important medical concept. Lively with a catchy beat, this one is pure fun! “Un Boceto de Espana” (A Sketch of Spain) features Emily Nastelin playing a soulful trumpet - ole’! “Sixth Floor Lullaby” is tender and loving, and was written in honor of Fine’s daughter and her recent stay in a hospital. “Diversion in D Minor” is another favorite. Lively and playful, it goes in several musical directions, returning to the bouncy and joyful chorus. “A Wonderful Life” is a graceful and heartfelt tribute to a local pastor who passed away recently. “The Hershey Hop” is named for The Fine family’s pet rabbit, and is made up of a lively assortment of ragtime themes - I’d like to play this one! Fine wrote “Expatriates” to go with a friend’s poem while in medical school. Intensely beautiful and emotionally powerful, this is another favorite. The last two tracks, “Dusk” and “Equinox” were composed by Fine’s son, Ben, and show a tremendous amount of promise from this young pianist/composer.
Paul Fine is definitely a pianist/composer who defies classification and pop music trends - I love that! If you enjoy solo piano (mostly) that is truly different and has classical and early jazz touches, be sure to check this one out. Measuring Up is available from CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon. Recommended!
July 27, 2011