Andy Fielding: Playing For Keeps
The opening track "If I Had You" is wistful, and appropriately romantic version moving in a slow, casual loping rhythm. As an introduction to Fielding it displays not only his classical technique, but also his deft left hand that at times rises out of its accompaniment mode to comment on the prevailing mood. This is a sweet, somewhat sad version that acts as an introduction to Fielding with its flashes of blues, ragtime and stride. The emotional attunement of his playing, especially the interaction of his right and left hands is noteworthy. His is a subtle, casual mastery.
Fielding jumps right into James P. Johnson’s stride classic "Carolina Shout" with grace and style, playing it at a medium tempo with humor and a jaunty confidence. His version of Hoagy Carmichael’s "New Orleans" opens in a dreamy, bluesy mood that swirls in a slow round of nostalgia. Fielding’s version of Dave McKenna’s "Cat’s Cradle" is simply beautiful, a fine tribute to a great pianist, and an acknowledged Fielding influence. Other outstanding tracks include Fielding’s rag composition "A Ride On The River" and a rousing gospel/stride version of Johnny Guarnieri’s "The Gospel Truth."
The highlight of this long set is "A Night in Tunisia" that opens with the famous staccato melody statement, but Fielding underpins it with a hint of a stride bass foreshadowing later developments. Fielding demonstrates that he can be at home in the angular, descending world of modern jazz. Then about midway through, the melody is unraveled and reconceived as a stride statement with the bass line rising out into the open. This is dramatic shift - bebop into full stride - until the bop melody gracefully returns shifting the performance toward the opening mood, but with a less insistent tone. This is exciting jazz, doing what its supposed to do, creative and intensely alive.
Track Listing: If I Had You; One Note Samba; Stardust; Freda With The Naturally Curly Hair; A Ride On The River; Carolina Shout; New Orleans Medley - New Orleans, They All Ask
Personnel: Andy Fielding solo piano.
Record Label: Arbors Records
Style: Dixieland/New Orleans/Swing