Paul L. Fine
2012 / Paul L. Fine
Review by Kathy Parsons
Wild Pitches is the sixth album of original compositions from Paul L. Fine, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School (when he isn’t tickling the ivories or composing his charming melodies!). As on his previous albums, the music on Wild Pitches is composed in a variety of musical styles. The fourteen tracks include eleven piano solos and three pieces with vocals. The liner notes for Fine’s CDs are always a joy to read as they overflow with his love of family, optimistic outlook, and wit as well as providing insight into the inspiration for the music. Consistently unconventional, deeply personal, and refreshingly original, I always look forward to new releases from Dr. Fine and Wild Pitches does not disappoint in any way.
Wild Pitches begins with “First Impressions,” a piece intended to be reminiscent of the French Impressionist composers. Before reading the liner notes, I assumed this piece was a tribute to Erik Satie, so I’d say Fine succeeded well! Not as spare as most of Satie’s music, his influence is definitely there in the dark mood, waltz rhythm and unusual chords. A nice start! “The Latin Translation” was inspired by a piece played at a high school concert where his daughter Ellie played cello. Playful and spirited, it sounds like fun to play! “Inside Straight” is a lively ragtime piece inspired by friendly in-home poker games and the joy of time spent with good friends. My favorite track is the bluesy “A Minor Indiscretion,” a piece that was partially composed beforehand and partly improvised in the recording studio. At 12 1/2 minutes, this is the longest of the ninety-seven pieces Fine has recorded. Slow and slinky and oozing shades of midnight blue and deep violet, this piece is a great reminder of why piano blues is one of my favorite genres! Fine always includes a composition written in the style of the classical era, and this time it’s “Rondo Alberti,” a light piece similar to Mozart and Haydn with the Alberti bass pattern that is so typical of that era. “Six Words,” the first of the three vocals, is a tender, sentimental love song to Fine’s daughter, Ellie - an incredible gift that I’m sure she’ll treasure always. “Eclipse” was composed as a tribute to Fine’s father a few weeks after his passing. Sung by Joe Church, Fine’s words and beautiful melody express a deep sense of loss as well as enduring love. The final track, “Singing to Benjamin, Part 2,” is a whimsical ode to Fine’s younger son’s becoming the tallest member of the family. Sweet and very funny, it’s a delightful sequel to the first version, which appeared on Fine’s 2006 debut, Fine Tuning.
Wild Pitches is a very warm, satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable musical experience! It is available from Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby. Recommended!
September 10, 2012
(as Paul L. Fine, Errick Thomas, and Daniel Cronin)