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David Lopato: Many Moons

Dan Bilawsky By

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Pianist David Lopato's Many Moons could just as easily have been called Many Moods, with the variety of approaches he takes on these twelve original piano pieces. Jazz is only one area of expertise on Lopato's large resume, which also includes extensive studies on African drumming and Javanese gamelan, scoring work for theater and dance, and many years spent as the producer of a concert series concentrating on modern improvised music, and he uses his diverse experiences to color his solo works in a variety of ways.

Lopato refuses to be pigeonholed, moving comfortably between bebop romps ("Reflexology"), rhythmic roller coasters that shift from New Orleans street grooves to solid swing ("Swing Trades"), and works of moody contemplation ("Inside You" and "Wishing Willie Well"). Wit and zany energy are delivered in the form of a bluegrass tribute ("Fly Brook")—which could easily serve well as a silent film soundtrack vignette—and Lopato even feels comfortable enough to take things out for a stormy stroll on "No Visa." This piece starts and ends life in relative serenity, but a mid-life crisis is presented as an avant-garde avalanche of chaotic proportions.

While a few pieces have a short shelf life and seem to linger in an overly grounded state ("African Village"), these are the exceptions, not the rule. More often than not, Lopato's compositions and performances display an inner logic, whether conjuring Willie "The Lion" Smith or James P. Johnson on the fascinating "The Big Bad Wolf Ain't So Bad After All," or swimming in the murky and perilous waters of artists like John Cage and Conlon Nancarrow ("Piano Roll"). Lopato's focus also never strays far from home, with pieces that recall dinner at his mother's house and his childhood in Brooklyn, and he fittingly ends the album with Peace March, from his Suite 9/11. Lopato's music exudes an inextinguishable spirit of optimism and hope, as he channels some of the emotions that the horrific events of September 11, 2001, inspired within the people of New York, bringing his diverse presentation of solo piano works to a close.

Track Listing: Swing Trades; Inside You; Fly Brook; Unrequited Love; No Visa; Reflexology; Brooklyn; The Big Bad Wolf Ain't So Bad After All; Wishing Willie Well; African Village; Piano Roll 1; Peace March.

Personnel: David Lopato: piano.

Title: Many Moons | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Self Produced

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