David Lopato: Many Moons (2011)
Pianist/composer, David Lopato's long career has included turns with prominent players in the fields of avant-garde jazz and classical, world music, theater, free improvisation and modern jazz. In particular, he has done outstanding jazz work with Gerry Hemingway, David Mott, Wadada Leo Smith and Joe Lovano. Given the wide and varied circles Lopato travels in, it isn't useful to have preconceived notions about any particular music as his defining genre. Nevertheless, Many Moons, his second solo piano release, covers the preferences of many who have enjoyed Lopato's work.
"Swing Trades" opens the collection, and is aptly titled, as it moves back and forth from a distinctive boogie rhythm to dissonance. Lopato employs a similar method of exchanging and comingling different styles on "Inside You" and "No Visa," the latter moving closer to a free jazz approach. In both cases, Lopato introduces the tune with straightforward, almost sparse phrasing before layering on far more complexity. "Piano Roll I," which in part, pays respect to John Cage, is the most openly free piece in the collection, and is influenced by the very different dynamics of player and prepared pianos.
The very brief "Fly Brook" and "Unrequited Love" incorporate an Americana folk element, the first piece being an expression of Lopato's fondness for bluegrass music. Another of his more personal compositions is "Brooklyn," a bluesy reflection on Lopato's childhood home and his subsequent sense of detachment from it. "The Big Bad Wolf Ain't So Bad After All" starts out as a rag and continues Lopato's drawing on personal aspects of his life for musical inspiration.
After exploring some of these more traditional styles, Lopato revisits more of his melodic phrases infused with free improvisation on "African Village." This particular piece being influenced by Lopato's exposure to the same Ewe folk music of Ghana which had inspired much of Royal Hartigan's Blood Drum Spirit. The collection closes with "Peace March," a reverential excerpt from Lopato's "Suite 9/11." The parts may be greater than the sum on Many Moons, but it's possible that it needs to be the case when spanning more than thirty years of original compositions. It's an impressive display of Lopato's talents as a musician and composer.
Track Listing: Swing Trades; Inside You; Fly Brook; Unrequited Love; No Visa; Reflexology; Brooklyn; The Big Bad Wolf Ain't So Bad After All; Wishing Willie Well; African Village; Piano Roll 1; Peace March.
Personnel: David Lopato: piano.
Record Label: Self Produced