It might be a bit bold to call pianist Laszlo Gardony's Clarity work a triumph of the human spirit, but indeed the ten spontaneous compositions presented are a testament to his purposeful character and allegiance to introspection.
The Berklee College of Music professor was born in Budapest and grew up under the influence of European classical music, American rock, and the African-based music of jazz and blues. His main outlet for recordings these days is his trio with John Lockwood and Yoron Israel. Their previous release was Signature Time (Sunnyside, 2011)with Stan Strickland.
Like his prior solo recording, Changing Standards (Sunnyside, 1993) he improvises music here on the spot. Where his improvisations on the Standards record originated in the familiar sounds of John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, and Duke Ellington, here he improvises the whole nine yards.
The press notes indicate that he often records his spontaneous sessions. On this October 2012 morning, after the passing of his parents, he sat down to reflect, morn their loss, and ultimately celebrate their lives (and his own).
Part meditative psalm and part rhythmic, percussive dance, the pianist takes the listeners through his opening rumination. "Settling Of A Racing Mind" begins in church with its formality and decorum. He then turns inward with "Surface Reflections" and "Looking Deeper," summoning richness and profundity in this guided meditation. Even though there is silence between tracks, each piece influences the next one. His sorrow gives way to bolder moods and a spirited propulsion.
The longest piece, "Better Place," (11:31) builds momentum and buoyancy. Gardony has the ability to move your spirit through his propulsive playing. Here he thunders forward with a bluesy touch and a dancing essence. After a couple of quieter passages, he delivers a tribute to Americana with "Resilient Joy," where he filters W.C. Handy through Aaron Copland. He ends with his "Resolution," one that is more hopeful than defeatist.
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).
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