The title track is not the John Lewis tune, nor is this piano staid. It’s a blend – the introspection of Bill Evans, the light funk of Vince Guaraldi – and yet it has its own sound. You get light drums, and active bass – and a piano that moves between and soft and loud. It’s an interesting sound which keeps you listening – and that, I believe, is the point.
“Fire and Light” starts with mild dissonance and a rhythmic drum – the cymbals with a light ubbbling sound. Pianist Tom Kohl slows the pace on his solo; he muses, but keeping a sense of forward drive. The bass pushes a little, and the drums of Gerry fitzgerald begin a gentle aggression. This pushes Kohl on: louder, with feeling. He hits a strong rhythm, and the edgy chords follow along. The bass soars high: Steve Roane’s conception is modern and his tone creamy. The theme returns, and rumbles off like a slow train. Not to worry – the sound will be back.
Kohl starts “The Thrill is Gone” alone – which is most appropriate. In his hands it sounds classical stark, and sweetly sad. A whispering cymbal joins him, and soon we have the trio – but Kohl is what matters. The focus only shifts when Roane sings as he solos – he sounds happy, and so is his turn.
“Tuck Me In” is a lullaby waltz, dedicated to Roane’s daughter. The sound is cerebral, and more than a little restless: Kohl hits the high notes tough, making it harder for Ashley to sleep. His solo retains the edge, with full chords and a sense of unease (monsters under the bed?) This is light classical: a hypnotic theme of simple beauty, like the best of Satie. Menina Flor” is a samba by Bonfa, Fitzgerald hinting the rhythm but never playing it. In Kohl’s chords we hear a trace of Guaraldi, perfect in this context. Roane sings his solo, and here it works – it reminds me of the wordless vocals in a lot of Brazilian songs.
“Hannah’s Song” is another girl, this one hopeful. The notes dance, and the chords paint the rising of the sun. Kohl builds little figures on top of each other. The grace can be felt: this is a dancer at play, and she is elegant. From here we turn exotic: “Three Windows” comes on like “Caravan”, and moves into aggressive introspection (how’s that for a contradiction?) Kohl starts out like Evans, gets bitter in tone, his notes get rhythmic, and Fitzgerald hammers it home. The windows then close, and the drums play exotica before fading. Joni Mitchell’s “Chelsea Morning” opens in a storm of cymbals, Kohl stepping through the mist. He sounds firm and graceful; Roane is more cautious, tiptoeing through the cymbals. Kohl starts to ring like a celeste, and Roane sings over the cymbals – a lonely voice among nature. A lovely song, suggesting quietude – and this you don’t expect on a record!