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Ron Thomas: Two Lonely People

Dan McClenaghan By

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A spin through pianist Ron Thomas's discography as a leader doesn't always directly point toward the music found on Two Lonely People. His two masterful trio outings, Music in Three Parts (Art of Life Records, 2006) and Doloroso (Art of Life Records, 2006) are both full of abstract and elastic originals; the highly electric and compellingly otherworldly Elysium (Vectordisc, 2009) stretches the boundaries way, way "out there"; and his 17 Solo Piano Improvisations (Vectordisc, 2006) leans heavily on the pianist's classical music roots.

But it was his 1965 discovery of the music of Miles Davis and Bill Evans that tugged Thomas in the jazz direction. And with the solo outing, Two Lonely People, Thomas delves deeply into the straight-ahead jazz idiom, covering three Evans compositions, including the title tune, with unalloyed affection and depth of knowledge of the legendary pianist's artistry, while also offering up gorgeous and introspective takes of Thelonious Monk's classic "Round Midnight" and a lilting, delicately lovely rendition of Luis Bonfa's "Black Orpheus." Two Evans-like Thomas originals round out a very intimate and cerebral, yet accessible set of sounds, sequenced perfectly.

Thomas's acoustic offerings always contain a remarkable depth of feeling, a genuine and unpretentious commitment to pure art, with a warmth and humanity combined with an understated brainy audacity. His classical roots run deep, as a student and friend of both Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage; and his Evans influence flows fresh and clean on the surface.

Thomas wraps up the CD with a distinct gear change, switching from the more pensive mood of the first eight tunes to an uplifting, buoyant take on George and Ira Gershwin's "Our Love is Here to Stay."

Two Lonely People is very much an outing for Thomas to re-explore his early jazz influences, with a depth of expression that can only come from a lifetime of far-reaching musical exploration. It is beautifully done, and presented, via its exquisite cover photography and design, as a fine and compelling work of art.

Track Listing: Things You Were; Time Remembered; Black Orpheus; Untitled; Round Midnight; Turn Out the Stars; Lyonswaltz; Two Lonely People; Our Love is Here to Stay.

Personnel: Ron Thomas: piano.

Title: Two Lonely People | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Vectordisc Records

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