There was a time when you couldn't swing a dead cat in New York without hitting a Rhodes player, including a first tier of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Jan Hammer, etc. The Fender Rhodes electric piano was developed by Harold Rhodes (his partnership with electric guitar pioneer Leo Fender lasted only six years), and it has one of the most distinctive sounds in music.
Advances in music technology, such as synthesizers and digital keyboards, offered versatility and portability. But none could electronically duplicate the sound of the Rhodes. They might come close, but only a real Rhodes could give you that sound.
The Rhodes has been making a bit of a comeback lately with use in hip-hop and R&B bands. That sound will definitely make you recall "back in the day" memories. So it was with great pleasure that I listened to New York Electric Piano. On keyboards is Pat Daugherty, who does not merely play the electric piano, but takes you on a sonic tour of the sounds that the Rhodes is capable of producing. He even uses a "lead and rhythm electric piano" approach on some songs. Drummer Aaron Comess and bassist Tim Givens, who provide very tight support and intuitive/solid playing, round out the band.
Although the electric piano is the primary lead instrument, the acoustic piano is also a featured voice. The multi-tracked pianos are carefully mixed to create subtle tonal nuances and textures within the songs. There is a lot to discover. Loud volume is not needed to get the point across.
The focus of the music is on the interplay between the musicians and the range of dynamics that they create. The ensemble arrangements are uncluttered and individual playing is never busy. Comess and Givens lay down simmering, bouncy grooves as well as delicate accompaniment. Daugherty is an economical and very expressive soloist.
The songs on New York Electric Piano are a nice blend of funky tracks with smothering grooves, along with very melodic pieces. Pat uses the various tones of the Rhodes to set the mood of the pieces: ranging from the urban cool of "Space Travel" and "Last Soldier" to the pensive melodies of "Hidden Path" and "East Village Buffalo Puppy." "I'll Take The Apple" just begs to be played when you're driving on the open road. The acoustic piano takes you on a ride with the funk of "Democrazy." And "Blues In Orbit" (which reworks the chord progression of "Space Travel") is a blistering jazz workout that features a brisk walking bass line by Givens and a tasty drum solo by Comess. Other highlights on the CD are "So Be It" and "Dreamboat."
New York Electric Piano has been hoggin' disc space in my CD players. Looks like it's gonna stay for awhile... and that's a good thing. For more information, visit www.patdaugherty.com
Space Travel; I'll Take The Apple; Democrazy; Hidden Path; So Be It; Central Parker; Dreamboat;
Split Three Ways; 13th Street Hummingbird; East Village Buffalo Puppy; Blues In Orbit; Last Soldier
Pat Daugherty--Pianos; Aaron Comess--Drums; Tim Givens--Bass