Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blue Dreams

ROGER POWELL – “Blue Note Ridge” CD ’09 (Unicorn Digital, UK) – I have to admit, I’m way out of my normal comfort zone on this one as reviewer. I mean, let’s face it, the things that most frequently pass across this desk are born of Marshall Amplification and ragged riffs. Yes, The Realm is also home to bedfellows as seemingly strange as Celtic folk and bluegrass, but these are genres I’ve delved into enough to know my way around. So when Utopia man ROGER POWELL’s collection of solo piano improvs fell out of the stout envelope of goodies from Unicorn Digital (more of which to be reviewed soon), I was in uncharted territory. Being the open-minded kinda guy I am, however, I threw the disc in and…hmm…found myself turning to it again and again. It’s usually been late in these winter evenings that I do so, letting the melodic-yet-exploratory tones of “Snowfall,” “Flint Hill” and “Path To The River” wash over me. As ROGER’s fingers caress the ivories, it’s as if all the stress and bullshit of the day is purged. There’s a palpable warmth to those and others, like “Shadow Of Pines” & “Valley Fog.” It’s a warmth that names the piano as what it really is, a string instrument with the same poignant emotions as an acoustic guitar. This, of course, is emphasized by the gentle command of Powell’s playing and his thoughtful, improvised melodies. Someone else may be able to tell you the technicalities of “Blue Note Ridge.” I just know I like it. Hittin’ That Note

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