Pianist Laszlo Gardony's Clarity is a single, composed on the spot, piano sonata comprising ten movements. The contemplative and intimate music bears marks of his various life experiences, from his classical training in his native Budapest to his career as a jazz educator at Boston's Berklee College of Music.
Recorded in a single sitting in October 2012 Clarity is a reflection on life on the anniversary of his parent's passing. Opening with the mournful "Settling Of A Racing Mind" and closing with the lush and blues tinged "Resolution (Perfect Place)" this intensely personal disc is replete with ostinato patterns emblematic of ruminating thoughts both somber and joyous.
Gardony deftly utilizes silent pauses in his improvisations allowing the notes to shimmer and echo against the serene stillness. This is well demonstrated on both the fragile and lyrical "Surface Reflections" and the impressionistic, hymn like "Open Window." The latter conjures up images of a bright and breezy Sunday morning.
Not all of the pieces have sacred undertones. "Working Through (Clarity)" is a danceable folk tune while the bold and percussive "Better Place" has a Debussy-esque angularity with repetitive motifs that are soothing despite their dark rumble. The resulting sonic landscape is of Zen gardens and gently cascading waterfalls.
The refrains of note clusters that Gardony plays morph slightly with each iteration as he embellishes and tints them with different hues. The exuberant "Resilient Joy" starts off as a ragtime leaning work out and gradually evolves into one with Harlem stride influences. The upbeat but tad melancholic "Finding Strength," on the other hand, concludes with determined and assertive chords that stem out of the same underlying theme.
Although somewhat alliterative, Gardony's second solo outing is subtly sentimental and wistful, yet affirmative. It is an intriguing exercise in spontaneous creativity and poetic introspection that brims with a joie de vivre.
Track Listing: Settling Of A Racing Mind; Surface Reflections; Looking Deeper; Working Through (Clarity); Finding Strength; Better Place; Opened Window (Hopeful Horizon); Tempering; Resilient Joy; Resolution (Perfect Place).
I was first exposed to jazz while working overseas in Africa as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I would listen to the Voice of America on the radio and they had a nightly jazz program on at 10:00pm. I learned a lot about jazz listening to this program. I also had a friend who listened to real jazz by artists like Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy and Archie Shepp. On my way home from Africa I landed in New York and had the opportunity to see the George Adams/Don Pullen quartet at the Village Vanguard as well as Kenny Barron and Ron Carter at another club, and was in heaven.