On Strength And Anger, Pianist Dan DeChellis' continues his original explorations within the trio format, building on his work on such albums as My Age Of Anxiety (Self Produced, 2012), The Getback (Self Produced, 2009), Organic Material (Self Produced, 2008), and Climbing (Self Produced, 2006).
The seventeen songs presented hereinmost in the three-to-five minute rangeare autobiographical in nature. DeChellis references the highs and lows in his life, looking back fondly on twenty years of marriage ("20 Year Waltz"), ruminating on the loss of his father ("My Old Man"), and sorting through other highly personal events with some help from bassist Scot Hornick and drummer Steve Decker.
It's somewhat ironic that the strongest material on an album called Strength And Anger would turn out to be the gentlest, most reflective music on the program, but such is the case here. When DeChellis gets into a relaxed zone, as on the absorbing "Shoulders Of Giants" and the meditative "Full Circle," he hooks the ears and creates music that touches the heart. The songs that hit harder, like backbeat-driven numbers ("Empty Words And Spent Energy" and "The First Of Many") and heavy-handed displays ("On The Brink"), tend to be a bit stiff and generic, making them a tougher sell.
Repetition tends to be a double-edged sword here, serving DeChellis well in some places and holding him back in others. On one hand, he almost always gives the listener something to remember, something plenty of trios could stand to learn from; on the other hand, he doesn't always take his ideas as far as he could, preferring embellishment over development on many occasions.
Through it all, several things remain certain: Dan DeChellis is a pianist with plenty to say, covering a broad emotional spectrum while creating music that speaks clearly, succinctly and directly to the mind, body, and soul.
24 Hour Intervals; Anticipation; 20 Year Waltz; Empty Words And Spent Energy; Shoulders Of Giants; The First Of Many; Full Circle; The Decision; Thing Too Much; My Old Man; On The Brink; The Helpless Romantic; SKIRMISH; Morning Due; I Know What You're Thinking; What I Know, And What I Wish I Didn't; Strength And Anger.
Dan DeChellis: piano; Scot Hornick: acoustic bass; Steve Decker: drums.
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