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Matt Newton: Within Reach (2014)

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Matt Newton: Within Reach How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The piano only has 88 keys but an infinite number of possibilities are trapped within those black and white beauties. The instrument just sits and waits for the right people to come along and discover these yet-to-be-heard sounds. Judging from this album, Matt Newton is one of the right people.

On Within Reach, the Toronto-based Newton doesn't simply play piano. He expertly shapes phrases, lets notes pool together, creates rich and luxuriant arcs of sound, and balances the yin and yang that exists within these songs. His playing exudes warmth and comfort, yet it remains unpredictable. He's at his best when he's blanketing his trio mates and settling atop the mix, and he's the obvious leader because of it, but he's one who doesn't let ego stop him from making music on a level playing field.

Newton's trio mates—bassist Dan Fortin and drummer Ethan Ardelli—each help accentuate his personality in different ways. Ardelli, like Newton, is a fan of aural drapery, delivering cymbal-ic gestures and patterns that push, flow and wash up against things. He can be the firmest and stormiest of the bunch, but his work is never rigid or overbearing. Fortin, in many respects, is the man apart. While a round and robust sound might be expected from a bassist who keeps company with these two men, Fortin doesn't fit that bill; his is a slightly woody and focused tone, and he serves as a foil for Newton and Ardelli.

While most piano trios today tend to either work within predictable linear molds or ethereal spaces, Newton's group makes good with shapely designs that manage to be evasive and transparent all at once.

Track Listing: Within Reach; Crossway; Stepping Into The Light; Short Flight; Our Own World; Building The Ship; Ends; Claire-ity.

Personnel: Matt Newton: piano; Dan Fortin: bass; Ethan Ardelli: drums; Felicity Williams: vocals (5); Harley Card: guitar (5).

Record Label: Self Produced


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