"Quiet Piano Improvisations, Volume 1" is the first in a series of improvised albums by one of my very favorite artists, Greg Maroney. I have been reviewing Greg’s albums almost since he started recording them, and have been proofing, editing and teaching his sheet music for almost as long. I daresay I might be the only person who knows Greg’s music almost as well as he does! Even so, when he sent me a couple of preview CDs of these improvisations for feedback, I was blown away by how fresh and free these new pieces are. It’s not that his music has ever been overworked - this is just a new approach and direction for his music. Greg mentioned to me that the songs on the CD are very personal, and that this music is what he plays for his own enjoyment late at night when no one else is listening. “They express a selection of emotions from my personality, some happy, some quieter, some sad.”
While the title "Quiet Piano Improvisations" is appropriate, this isn’t necessarily background music or music to go to sleep with. Heartfelt expression and emotion overflow, but there is no dark thunder or turbulence. Sometimes improvisations lose something when they are recorded because they don’t stand up to repeated listens, but that is far from the case with this album. Most of the music has structure and is melodic - it just happened spontaneously rather than with careful composition. The only downside is that Greg has to learn the music before he can perform it or write out sheet music!
"Quiet Piano Improvisations, Volume 1" begins with “Waterfall,” a joyful, serene piece that suggests a warm spring day set to music - a gorgeous opening! “Spirit Within” expresses grace and tranquility. “Cathedral” is a bit more stately and reverent yet has a beautifully relaxed and flowing feeling. “Quiet Reverie” is almost ambient as it freely moves from chord to chord with no specific rhythm or melody - dreamy and soothing. “Courage to Fly” overflows with warmth and optimism, lightly dancing around the piano keyboard - a favorite. “Salutation To the Moon” is uncomplicated, but packs a powerful emotional response. A bit darker than the previous pieces, the simple but very evocative melody and gentle broken chords express so much - also a favorite. My favorite track is “Remembrance,” a somber but very passionate piece that comes from deep within and expresses a range of emotions that are experienced when faced with a great loss. This is an amazing piece that flows directly from the heart of the artist through his fingers and into the hearts of his listeners. “Promise” is equally heartfelt, but is much lighter and more contented. It’s a beautiful closing to an outstanding album!
Although Greg Maroney’s approach was different with this album, the music is still very easy to identify as being his, so longtime fans will find much to love about this album. If you are new to Greg’s music, this is a wonderful place to start! Sure to be on my Favorites List for 2016, I give "Quiet Piano Improvisations, Volume 1" my highest recommendation.