Dave Frank is a professor of piano at Boston's Berklee College of Music, co-founder of the New York School of Jazz and best-selling author of The Joy of Improv. Over the past twenty five years, he has developed a highly personalized approach towards solo piano performance. Ballads and Burners is the follow-up to his 1997 Jazzheads debut, Power of the Piano.
What makes Frank's albums so interesting is the intensity and drive that he pours into his solo piano technique regardless of the respective tempo. On his debut album all but one of the compositions were original. On Ballads & Burners, only Cole Porter's "It's Alright With Me" is not an original composition and Franks uses his skills to show what he can do with an established composition.
There are several introspective ballads on the album in which two impressionistic painters inspired Frank to show a Bill Evan-ish mode on both "Rousseau's World" and "Shades of Renoir." On the other hand, another master painter reference, "Salvador Dali In A State of Grace," understandably leaves the listener in a quixotic frame of mind. With the exception of the ballads, Franks maintains a very percussive approach to his playing and it serves to overwhelm the listener with his technique within the sound and fury of solo piano performance.
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total)
First time I met Lee Konitz, my mentor who completely changed my life, in 1992. He was giving a masterclass at the Cologne Conservatory (Germany) where I was a freshmen (with playing experience around three years total). He saw an alto sax on my neck and said: Hey, how about you there, would you like to play something for us? I played a piece with the piano. OK, said Lee, how about you play something unaccompanied? Oh yeah! I was deep into transcribing Sonny Stitt and pretty much into playing as fast as possible as many right notes as possible. So I played Oleo in about 300 beats per minute and was very proud of myself. Lee was tapping his foot all the way through. Hmm, he said, that was in time and all that... (I thought - yeah, of course, haha!) and then he said, You've got a lot of quantity, how about quality? It took me 15 years to realize what he meant.