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Not for Piano

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Album Review

Don't let the title of Francesco Tristano's CD deceive you, for he plays acoustic piano on all the selections, enhanced by occasional ghostly electronic background trimmings. It is not necessarily a jazz piano recording, but one where he has paid attention to the minimalist 20th and 21st century players influenced by Steve Reich. Tristano's music is also keyed into techno (modifying a tune by Autechre) and alternative rock, some ethnic elements, and pure improvisational keyboard stylings. The introductory piece, "Hello," establishes the repeat-line concept with attributions, different accents and dynamics, bouncy and soulful components, and some improvisation. "Strings of Life," an adaptation of Detroit techno pioneer Derrick May's "Strings," exploits underground phantom effects in a two-chord development that builds momentum. A rumbling free improv discourse during "Ap" features a string of mini-arpeggios, while "The Melody" shows Tristano in joyous counterintuitive play. Three selections team Tristano with the brilliant Lebanese pianist Rami Khalife (his CD Scene from Hellek is a must-buy), and they display instant rapport. Tapping the pianos inside and out during "Jeita" to start, they move into a fractured theme and then a train trip with consistent forward motion. "The Bells" is closest to Steve Reich's concept — slow, steady, then speeding within a controlled melodic framework — while "Hymn" takes a dramatic and boisterous turn with a sense of purpose that speeds past the Reich visage. Tristano is in many ways a sensible and somewhat predictable player, but takes sufficient risks and uses shadings of gray and blue, a bit of Latin samba as on "Two Minds One Sound," and lighthearted romanticism or delicate simplicity offering diversity beyond strict minimalism. A most enjoyable and interesting project, it should please most progressive music listeners, and serve as a credible prelude to future works. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Not for Piano, Francesco Tristano
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