The Ghost in the Oak (Art of Sound Volume 2) and Chorale (Art of Sound Volume 3) (33 Records 2008) - Thse two solo discs were recorded at the same time in 2007 at the Artesuono Studios in Italy (from where the name Art of Sound is derived) and released in 2008. This is an awe-inspiring display of virtuosity, and will readily bring to mind the improvised music of Keith Jarrett, particularly his later shorter pieces from New York, London/Paris, but also his epic playing at Koln. Again, the mastery over both hands as they play opposite each other, here contrapuntally and there in sequence, coupled with the flowing melodies, make for an outstanding listen. Classical piano lovers will appreciate his slower, stately, elegiac pieces. Still, he swings as well on "Zero-G", and features a boogie-like tune in "Fair Weather Friend".
With regard to his music, and his variety of playing styles, Law told All About Jazz: "I think I try and retain some of the best elements of classical music—chief among these has to be classical (functional) harmony; it's unique in the whole of world music—and mix them with those elements I get from jazz which I don't get from the classical tradition—mainly what I sometimes call the voodoo element. The repetitive rhythm and groove, which classical music never has." (Interview with John Law, All About Jazz, November 4, 2009). He went on to talk about his improvisational methods, which are powerfuly demonstrated on these discs: "Funnily enough I try and achieve, with my improvising, a feeling that it's sort of almost been composed beforehand, and with my compositions, the idea that they're made up on the spot. I don't always try for this but it's somewhere at the back of my mind. Because, on the one hand I truly believe that only through real time composition can one achieve some of the most amazing results in music, in terms of perfect form and in terms of matching the atmosphere with something totally appropriate."
Congregation (Art of Sound Volume 4) (33 Records 2009) - Law returns to the trio with this disc, the last in the series, and his tunes are terrifically lyrical with a nice jazz groove and some interesting new percussion elements added for coloration. the title tune "Congregation" is a forward moving, lively, and at times almost anthemic, and it should get the foot tapping and body moving, which leads right into another upbeat tune, "Bo Peep." The music overall is a bit more adventurous and experiments with sounds, although not to the extent that they overwhelm the tunes themselves. But bassist Sam Burgess uses some distortion effects not unlike those of Bad Plus or EST, and Asaf Sirkis is more inventive than before. One can compare songs that appear on both solo and trio recordings, most notably how "Ghost in the Oak" is transformed by the addition of some very interesting bells, clicks, and assorted background sounds. Still, Law never releases completely from his classical underpinning, and "Still Life" for example retains his spontaneity with classical materials. The closing Chorale starts softly as a comtemplative piece which surprisingly ends with a Latin beat. Just a complete picture of a terrific artist, with some great drum soloing and arco bass complementing the piano.
The Art of Sound Trio (l:r): Asaf Sirkis, Sam Burgess, John Law