This virtuosic solo piano outing by Joanne Brackeen gives Chick Corea’s year 2000 solo series a run for its money. It’s also quite a departure from the busier sound of 1999’s Pink Elephant Magic. But like her previous record, Popsicle Illusion is packed with Brackeen’s characteristic exuberance, sophistication, and diverse stylistic command.
Beginning with a 7/4 stride piano version of "If I Were a Bell," Brackeen goes on to tackle several other standards and four strong originals. She performs lightning-speed harmonic surgery on Cole Porter’s "From This Moment On" and takes "The Touch of Your Lips" at a swinging medium tempo. Donning a different hat, she delivers the stunning ballads "Prelude to a Kiss," "Bess, You Is My Woman," and even the Beatles’s "Michelle." Her originals, as usual, overflow with compositional resourcefulness and resist easy categorization: there’s the splashy "Popsicle Illusion," the Tel Aviv-inspired "Telavivision," the boogie-woogie throwback "Knickerbocker Blues," and the abstract, classically influenced piece "High Tea for Stephany." Brackeen wraps up with "Nature Boy," done faster than usual in a semi-stride style. Then there’s a special bonus: an engaging, five-minute-plus interview of Brackeen by producer Bob Karcy.
An important statement from an important pianist.
Joanne Brackeen, piano
Tracks: 1. If I Were a Bell 2. Michelle 3. Popsicle Illusion 4. From This Moment On 5. Bess, You Is My Woman 6. The Touch of Your Lips 7. Telavivision 8. Knickerbocker Blues 9. High Tea for Stephany 10. Prelude to a Kiss 11. Nature Boy 12. Interview with Joanne