Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Qiuet Piano Times: David Berkman and Larry Goldings

In My Room\

Two very similar CDs in concept and sound, Larry Golding's "In My Room" (BFM Jazz 2011) and David Berkman's more recent "Self-Portrait" (RPR (Red Piano Records) 2012)Self-Portrait provide an intimate look at two pianists alone with their piano and their thoughts. Both feel as if the pianist was sitting at home at his piano, late at night, wineglass on the piano top, and randomly playing some favorites or simply playing interesting morsels of creative improvisations. They are relaxed, low-keyed songs, charming in their extreme simplicity and in many cases enduring melodies. Berkman plays a lovely "Sweet and Low", "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", and "Just in Time" among his 13 chestnuts, interspersed with four improvised sketches; Goldings plays four improvised interludes among his 18 pieces, with the other 14 given over to some standards, some more recent songs, and a few surpirses. Highlights on the Goldings' CD are Joni Mitchell's " All I Want", "Everything Happens to Me" and the Beatles "Here There and Everywhere"; surprises are "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" and "Beautiful Dreamer."

These are quiet discs for quiet listening but are not just background music either. Each artist knows how to embellish a tune, and how to create charming imrovisations around it as well. Goldings' music is perhaps a bit richer in tone with more fully formed chords; Berkman is more sparse with his notes but no less lovely to sit back and listen to. There are no wow pieces or moments for these artists; they are simply setting a simple and beautiful mood for the listener. So sit back, relax with your own glass of wine, and enjoy the intimacy with them.

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