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Customer Reviews

From MainlyPiano

KathyPiano7,

"Solo Piano Destruction" is the debut recording by pianist/composer/guitarist/singer/songwriter James Woolwine, a multi-faceted artist who started studying the piano at the age of seven. He was on track to becoming a concert pianist when his interest shifted to guitar and he attended Berklee College of Music as a guitar major. After college, he rediscovered his love for the piano and this album is the result! Woolwine’s piano compositions are inspired by his roots in classical music but also draw heavily from his love of rock, pop, and metal. I admit I was a little bit skeptical when I saw the title and cover artwork, but while Woolwine’s playing style is bold and energetic, there are also strong melodies and he has an expressive touch that conveys a variety of moods and tonal colors. Two of the ten tracks are Katy Perry covers and the other eight are Woolwine originals, some of which are bright and lively, some more smooth and graceful. He has a distinctive style that reminds me a bit of Scott D. Davis, although Scott’s music isn’t quite as classically-influenced.

"Solo Piano Destruction" begins with “Overkill,” Woolwine’s attempt to cram all of his musical influences into one piece - an “overkill” of ideas. Some of those influences - especially the classical ones - are easily identifiable and the piece is more of a montage than a medley. It’s a great opener that is fun, exciting, and showcases many of the styles Woolwine excels at. “Ivory Dance” is the first serious piano solo Woolwine composed. Some of the passages are very classical and some are more contemporary. It’s always fun to hear where composers started! “Firework” is the first of the two Katy Perry covers, arranged for solo piano; the second is “Teenage Dream.” “Meadows of Dan” is much simpler and more subdued, named for a place in Woolwine’s home state of Virginia - a favorite. I also really like “New Bach Etude,” which was Woolwine’s experiment with combining a simpler new age style and some of JS Bach’s harmonic progressions. The results are beautiful as well as interesting! Another favorite is “The One You Don’t See,” a solo version of a song originally written with vocals. With a variety of emotions expressed so eloquently, who needs lyrics? “From Andy” closes the album with a lively, upbeat piece inspired by guitarist Andy McKee.

With a great start like "Solo Piano Destruction," James Woolwine should be well on his way to making a name for himself! Check him out!

Review from Journeyscapes Radio

CandiceMichelle1,

James Woolwine is a pianist, guitarist, songwriter and teacher who began taking piano lessons at age seven. Comprised of eight original and two cover solo piano compositions, his debut album, Solo Piano Destruction, variably incorporates elements of pop, jazz and rock music into highly engaging contemporary classical arrangements.

“Overkill” is a dramatic and lively opener that follows along a relatively unpredictable path (as do many of James’ compositions), expertly weaving all his classical influences into one while displaying bold touches among an intricate melodic arrangement. The aptly-named “Ivory Dance” follows next, skipping along in a buoyant manner to the many nuances of James’ dynamic and intricate finger-work. The pace slows down a bit with Katy Perry’s instantly recognizable “Firework”, on which James skillfully employs his own unique embellishments. Comprised of the same four chords as the original song but with variation on the bridge, the piece is distinguished throughout by its insertion of powerful keystrokes, with special emphasis towards the latter part in the lower registers. Serving somewhat as an interlude is “Meadows of Dan”, which lends subtle contrast to the former piece with its simple opening notes and more rural, down-to-earth vibe. Dedicated to James’ mother who likewise named the piece, it takes its inspiration from a place called Dan in his home state of Virginia. Originally written as a guitar piece, “Happy Accident” sprang forth from several spontaneous ideas that ultimately resulted in a solid composition. Reminiscent of sunlight pouring through the open window of a cottage in the countryside, the fresh scents of nature seemingly fill the air, as James’ fingers move like spinning tops throughout the registers of this spritely, sunny tune. Showing considerably more restraint is “New Bach Etude”, the album’s most elegant composition, as well as my favorite, with its subtle intrigue and new age overtones. An additional Katy Perry song is rendered on this album, with James lending his own twist to the catchy “Teenage Dream”, which was the first composition he did a formal arrangement of. “From Andy” closes out the album with a sophisticated effervescence, serving as an ode to guitarist Andy McKee of whom this composition was inspired by.

Classically intricate yet dynamically straightforward, there is certainly much to appreciate about James Woolwine’s compositional arrangements and piano-playing techniques. Positive, upbeat and packing a lot of oomph, Solo Piano Destruction would be particularly well-suited to a live performance setting that personally engages his audience. With a guitar-based album also currently in the works, I suspect this is only just the beginning of more rewarding musical outputs to come!

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