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Album Review: Time Signatures
Paul L. Fine
Cover image of the album Time Signatures by Paul L. Fine
Time Signatures
Paul L. Fine
2013 / Paul L. Fine
78 minutes
Review by Kathy Parsons
Time Signatures is pianist/composer Paul L. Fine’s seventh album of original piano solos (and one vocal) and I think it contains some of his best music yet. An associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, Fine’s music is very distinctive in that he doesn’t follow any trends but those of his own creativity. His music contains elements of ragtime, classical music, standards, jazz and a little bit of just about everything else (except perhaps rap and opera, but don’t dare him!). He also writes some of the wittiest and most heartfelt liner notes I’ve ever read, making it worth buying the CD rather than the download to gain insight into the music. Fine often writes and dedicates music in honor of friends and loved ones and special events in their lives as well as his own. Each new release is a musical snapshot of the previous year and I always come away from Fine’s music feeling like he is someone I would really like to know. While this music might not be everyone’s cup of tea stylistically, if you are open to a very personal and unique musical point-of-view that is melodic and accessible, it is well-worth checking out.

Time Signatures begins with “Shades of Blue,” a piece composed as a gift for friends with touching emotional expression pouring out of each note - somewhat melancholy, but very beautiful. Fine likes to include an original composition on each recording composed in a classical style, and “At the Recital” could be by Mozart or Haydn and is dedicated to piano teachers everywhere. One of my favorites is “Emancipated Minor,” inspired by a discussion with Fine’s son. Spirited and playful, I love the minor key, the rhythmic deep bass, and the ragtime/klezmer feeling. Sheet music??? “Grilled Rueben” comes with the comment: “Without question, there have been too few piano pieces named after delicatessen food” - love it! The boogie woogie in the middle is priceless - Dr. Fine can really play!!! “Rumination” is dark and hauntingly beautiful. Fine’s comment: “There is universal agreement among philosophers that deep thinking must always be done in D minor.” I also really like “Chromatic Waltz,” a slow dance that employs chromatic scale themes to produce a slightly spooky effect. “Lillian” is an instrumental version of a song Fine wrote a few years after college. Wistful and dreamy, I get the feeling that the lady of this great song was much admired! “Heart Murmurs” is incredible! Fine recorded the sound of his own heartbeat (very audible on the recording) and used it as the rhythm track for this amazing piece. The improvised piano part uses pentatonic scales and is very peaceful. Fine’s comment is: “I’ve always felt that my piano pieces ‘come from the heart,’ so this is just a more literal version of that same sentiment.” LOL, but it truly is a wonderful and fascinating piece! The closing track, “What You Deserve,” was written as a surprise gift for Fine’s wife to celebrated the 25th anniversary of the day they met. This sweet love song brought a tear to my eye!

Paul Fine just keeps getting better and better. If you haven’t heard any of his music, check out the samples on Amazon and CD Baby. Time Signatures is also available on iTunes. I strongly recommend it!
November 19, 2013
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