Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Yes, Joy

Having observed pianist Laszlo Gardony at the piano in concert, I know how much music he is capable of creating.  As a boy, he studied classical music, as a teenager he discovered progressive rock and blues and, after graduating from the Bela Bartok Conservatory (as well the Science University) in Budapest, Hungary, Gardony played jazz throughout Europe.

He came to the United States in 1983 to study at the Berklee School in Boston (where he is now Professor of piano) and, by the end of that decade, he had released his first American CD.  Over the past 2+ decades, he has toured as an accompanist, as a solo artist, with his Trio and recorded 8 more CDs.

"Clarity" (Sunnyside Records) is his 10th album and, perhaps, his most personal and revelatory.  Recorded on an October morning in his studio at Berklee, Gardony sat down at the piano, turned on the recorder and played.  He let his mind and fingers go free and, 49 minutes later, he stopped.  When he returned to the recording several months later, the pianist knew that this would be his next release.  And, in this instance, "release" has several meanings.  Gardony just played - you can hear traces of blues, classical, rhythm 'n' blues, gospel and much more (on the buoyant "Resilient Joy", one could swear Gardony is channeling Allen Toussaint.)   As the music moves back and forth from introspective to the rhythmically exciting sections, one can feel the pianist losing himself and his self in the joy of creation.  Obviously, he's got the chops and, sure, he's got the knowledge of many different styles and genres but, by 10 minutes into this session, what you are hearing defies categorization.  To truly appreciate "Clarity", you must sit back and listen.  Let go of your preconceptions and just listen.  Is this music perfect?  Who cares.  If you are in the mood to escape the trivialities and madness of daily existence, close your eyes and listen.  Most of us have pieces of music that can calm us down, can push away the blues, can inspire, can help us remember good experiences - sometimes, we put music on in the background to enhance work or play.  As I listened to this recording, I could feel clouds of doubt and frustration lifting away (that's my reaction - I do not nor cannot expect you to feel the same but it does not hurt to listen.)

As the final notes of "Clarity" resonate in the room, there's a true feeling of emotional release.  Laszlo Gardony comes to his rest playing a chorus of sweet blues leading to a quiet resolution (indeed, the title of the cut is "Resolution (Perfect Place)" so he, too, could feel that his journey was complete.) On an October morning in 2012, Laszlo Gardony sat down at the piano and played.  Play, yes, musicians play and, when the conditions are right, the result is joyous. For more information, go to www.lgjazz.com.

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