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Alan Pasqua: Soliloquy

Dan McClenaghan By

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Webster's Dictionary defines the word "soliloquy" as "the act of talking to oneself." In terms of solo piano recordings, it is an apt title. Pianist Alan Pasqua's Soliloquy is a sophisticated and reflective, alone-with-the piano work, a deliberative and lovely take on a batch well-chosen standards and one Bob Dylan tune.

A versatile and virtuosic player, Pasqua has recorded with a wide array of top line jazz artists—Jack DeJohnette, Paul Motion, Michael and Randy Brecker, etc—as well as rock/pop artists John Fogerty, Starship, Dylan and more.

A glance at the set list says that Pasqua has got it bad for the music of Duke Ellington, and that's quite good. He includes Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" and "I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good," and "Lotus Blossom," from the pen of Billy Strayhorn. All are given a expanded harmonic depth that moves them away from a "rote rendition" mode. Melodic flourishes blossom beautifully off the main lines. And that proves to be the template for the entire set—a sojourn into the heart of the melodies that nudges them slightly off the beaten path without pushing them to a point beyond recognisability.

As for the Dylan tune, "Girl From the North Country," the opening cut of Dylan's underrated Nashville Skyline (Columbia, 1969) album: It seems a stretch of a choice for a set consisting of music from Ellington, Cole Porter ("Embraceable You'), Johnny Mandel ("A Time for Love") and the Schwartz/Dietz team ("I See Your Face Before Me"); but Pasqua shape-shifts this simple song of longing into solemn hymn, a joyful prayer that serves as a highlight, if one must be chosen.

Recorded in Pasqua's Santa Monica studio on a Steinway concert grand piano that gives the sound an exquisite crispness, Soliloquy earns a spot as one of the top piano albums of the year.

Track Listing: Hello Young Lovers; I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good; Lotus Blossom; I See Your Face Before Me; In A Sentimental Mood; Embraceable You; Isn't It Romantic; Girl From The North Country; A Time For Love; There Are Such Things.

Personnel: Alan Pasqua: piano.

Title: Soliloquy | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: Mouthpiece Music

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