For pianist, composer, and educator Dave Frank, the magic is in the left hand. Ballads & Burners is a collection of original compositions that brims with muscularity and assertion, whether ballads or burners.
What makes Frank interesting is the complexity of melody and rhythm he composes into his up-tempo pieces. The opener, "Spirit of the Burn, illustrates this. Following the exposition of a complex low register figure, Frank then begins to improvise with his right hand, displaying considerable prowess and power. "Rousseau's World is a muscular ballad, not lacking in tenderness, but bristling with energy.
Frank is a very percussive pianist, not unlike the late Don Pullen but without the avant-garde bent. "The Mechanization of America is a throbbing John Lee Hooker drone with advanced harmonic interpolations. The result is a certain hypnosis, albeit not a soothing one. Frank sets up a musical mantra that provides the song a steady velocity. His titles are often very descriptive. "Information Highway follows the format of "Spirit of the Burn, with a complex left hand that is constantly turning left and right while proceeding at high speed.
Frank has chops to burn, but it would be nice to hear what the pianist can do with standards old and new. A Coltrane or Dolphy recording would be interesting as well as time devoted to Ellington. His approach to his own compositions guarantees that whatever he does, it will be interesting.
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