The variety of settings is a big plus in that the program moves from the introspective solo pieces to heartfelt ballads to more uptempo tracks. McCaslin's appearances each stand out. He and Royston stoke the fires on "Kin Ka: Gold Coin", the hardest-hitting piece, while his full-toned and emotional solo on "Astray" moves from sweet melody to blues to impressionism. "Entanglement" also moves between lyricism and hard blowing for both the tenor and piano solos, bolstered by the splendid bass work and Royston's fiery percussion. McCaslin and Hirahara team up for a playful duet for the first third of "Little Giant" that continues in its buoyant mood as the rhythm section and ratchets up the energy.
The solo pieces each have a story. "Kuroda Bushi" is a traditional song from Japan with a stately melody line while "Introspect" is a lovely tone poem, also with a well-drawn melody. "Tracing The Line" builds slowly, the melody unfolding and opening up not unlike a Keith Jarrett solo improvisation. The closing track is the beautiful and soulful "Yuyake Koyake" - composed by Kanichi Shimofusa (1898-1962), its lovely folk melody describes a late afternoon sky and is a perfect close to an impressive program.
"Central Line" deserves your attention. The music that Art Hirahara created for this program gives the listener an insight not only into his fine musicianship but also into his creative mind. Each song is a story built from his experiences as a pianist, composer, world traveler, accompanist, and human being. Enjoy this journey.
For more information, go to arthirahara.com.
Here's a look into the album and its creator:
|MSU College of Music|
"All These Hands" not only pays tribute to the music born from the hardships,f rustrations, faith, and dreams of African Americans but also to the dedication of musicians to keep the music alive. "Alive" here means not just in the classroom but also in the clubs, concert halls, living rooms, theaters, basements, etc, in the United States and around the world. Michael Dease is active both playing and passing on the tradition - we listeners and his students are the grateful beneficiaries of his dedication, talent, and knowledge.
For more information, go to www.michaeldease.com.
Here's the opening track: