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Popsicle Illusion

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Album Review

This virtuosic solo piano outing by Joanne Brackeen gives Chick Corea's year 2000 solo series a run for its money. It's also quite a departure from the busier sound of 1999's Pink Elephant Magic. But like her previous record, Popsicle Illusion is packed with Brackeen's characteristic exuberance, sophistication, and diverse stylistic command.

Beginning with a 7/4 stride piano version of "If I Were a Bell," Brackeen goes on to tackle several other standards and four strong originals. She performs lightning-speed harmonic surgery on Cole Porter's "From This Moment On" and takes "The Touch of Your Lips" at a swinging medium tempo. Donning a different hat, she delivers the stunning ballads "Prelude to a Kiss," "Bess, You Is My Woman," and even the Beatles' "Michelle." Her originals, as usual, overflow with compositional resourcefulness and resist easy categorization: There's the splashy "Popsicle Illusion," the Tel Aviv-inspired "Telavivision," the boogie-woogie throwback "Knickerbocker Blues," and the abstract, classically influenced piece "High Tea for Stephany." Brackeen wraps up with "Nature Boy," done faster than usual in a semi-stride style. Then there's a special bonus: an engaging, five-plus minute interview of Brackeen by producer Bob Karcy.

An important statement from an important pianist. ~ David R. Adler, Rovi

Customer Reviews

WOW - Queen Brackeen does it again!

This album is over-the-top amazing! Where to start? I guess it's easiest to say this album showcases the genius that is Joanne Brackeen. "High Tea for Stephany" forever establishes Brackeen as one of the great jazz piano virtuosos. "Michelle" highlights her amazing ability to balance harmony and melody. The interview reveals the secret that drives all of her music. Every jazz enthusiast should have this album.


Hard to believe no one's reviewed this yet. . . a great solo album by one of THE greatest jazz pianists of the last 35 years. Just listen to her solo cover of "From This Moment On," and compare it with Brad Mehldau's on "Live in Tokyo" - the contrast, all in Joanne's favor, will be startlingly plain (derivative of Brackeen though Mehldau's version clearly is).....let's hope more recordings appear soon!


Born: July 26, 1938 in Ventura, CA

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Joanne Brackeen is a gifted pianist and composer whose harmonically advanced, creatively complex, and rhythmically adventuresome music greatly enhanced the development of jazz during the closing decades of the 20th century. Born Joanne Grogan in Ventura, CA on July 26, 1938, she was mostly self-taught but did study at the Los Angeles Conservatory of Music. Although her earliest inspiration was pop pianist Frankie Carle, her life was permanently altered by the music of Charlie Parker and she rapidly...
Full Bio
Popsicle Illusion, Joanne Brackeen
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