Pianist Richard Pellegrin teaches at the University of Florida, in Gainesville. But, when he is not teaching, he flies diagonally across the country to land in Seattle. Then he catches a ferry to Whidbey Islandhis retreat from the daily hubbub of making a living. His CD release Solitude was recorded there, at the Langley Methodist Church, on an Everett Concert Grand Piano dating from 1915not an instrument possessed of a perfection of response or precision of articulation, but one with character, a distinctive tone quality and a sort of spirit-world tone born of dense, seasoned wood.
Pellegrin has previously recorded with his "two horns and a rhythm section" ensemble, fashioning a distinctive modern jazz sound of well-constructed, forward-leaning compositions. But, with Solitude, the pianist changes gears, a shift to an intimate, contemplative solo piano recording, shaping twenty- five cohesive freely improvised pieces entitled "Improvisation I" through to "Improvisation XXV."
Solemnity is a consistent theme. So is sparseness of approach, and delicate and deliberately rendered beauty, with a "Why play three notes when one gets to the heart of the matter" mind-set carrying the day. Playfulness makes its appearance ("Improvisation IV"), along with a sense of wonder ("Improvisation V"). "Improvisation VII" sounds like a pencil sketch of a visualization of reverence, and XIII might be a "letting go" acceptance of spiritual grace, while "Improvisation XIV" feels like a move towards the temporal.
Certainly the beauty and relative remoteness of Whidbey Island had a hand in the sound of the finished product, as did the somewhat incorrigible piano, difficult to play due to a few minor age-related mechanical difficulties, but chosen by Pellegrin for its unique character and full range of resonance. The choice worked out well.
Produced by Rich Pellegrin
Recorded by Rich Pellegrin at
Langley United Methodist Church,
Langley, WA, Summer, 2019
Mixed & Mastered by Rob Boullion,
assisted by Caleb Alexander at
LinderVox Sound, Columbia, MO
Cover design & layout by John Bishop