The Blue Light
2005 / Cascadilla Records (remaster of 1994 release)
Review by Kathy Parsons
Pianist/composer Seth Kaufman has remastered and re-released his first two albums as a prelude to the long-awaited release of an album of new material in March ‘06. The Blue Light was Kaufman’s second release and made its debut in 1994. As with his other albums, there is a variety of playing styles - some serene and peaceful with others being bigger, bolder, and more dramatic. Kaufman’s classical training is evident, as is his background in jazz, but his musical voice is his own. Plus, he has playing chops to die for! The music was inspired by various sources, including a one-act play that he scored, literature, and, of course, life itself. I thoroughly enjoyed reviewing “Circling Noon” and “Red Descending” a few years ago, and am delighted that this incredible artist has resurfaced with lots of new (and not-so-new) music!
“Stadium” opens the CD with a burst of pianistic energy. Excitement and a feeling of bigness run through the piece. “First Moment” comes from the score of “Savage/Love,” a play written by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin. The piece effectively alternates between themes that are wistful and dreamy to upbeat and anxious, creating something of a dialog. It’s a fascinating piece that tells a story as it evolves. “Thursday” comes from a passage in Tony Morrison’s novel, “Jazz,” that muses about the satisfaction and comfort of that day of the week. Thoughtful and reflective, this piece is almost a ballad. “Chambers of the Sea” is a favorite. Inspired by a poem by T.S. Eliot, themes range from peaceful to turbulent, but the piece is mostly dark, dramatic, and very passionate - I’d love to be able to play this one! “Strolling A Suspension Bridge” switches gears to light and carefree - you can almost feel the warmth of the sun with a gentle breeze blowing through your hair. Another favorite is “Dark Blue,” a mournfully sad piece with a lively theme in the middle that keeps it from descending to the depths of despair. “The Rainy Years” blows me away with how its emotional changes flow so seamlessly from one to another - absolutely amazing and utterly compelling. I love it! “Farewells” is warm and a little sad, as the title implies - a lovely piece. Parts of it become very intense, demonstrating several kinds of “farewells.” “Sunset Park” features wordless vocals by Mimi Pasek that are layered over the piano - a very effective close to an outstanding album.
The Blue Light is an excellent addition to any piano lover’s collection. Seth Kaufman is one of the best pianists out there, and I can’t wait to hear his new music! It is available from Amazon, CD Baby, and CD Street. Highly recommended!
February 3, 2006