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Frederick Moyer: When Summer Comes

Chris Mosey By

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A homage in all but name by American concert pianist Frederick Moyer to one of his heroes, Oscar Peterson. All the songs, save two, formed a regular part of the late, great Canadian's repertoire.

The closing number, Moyer's own composition, "Gospel" bears a striking resemblance to Peterson's "Hymn To Freedom." Interestingly, Moyer claims to have written it before he ever heard the Peterson number, basing it on a phrase in Felix Mendelssohn's "Capriccio Brillante."

"Hymn To Freedom" was first featured on Peterson's classic 1962 Verve album, Night Train, composed in the studio at the behest of producer Norman Granz, who said he wanted something with an early blues feel to it.

Peterson said of the song, "I tried, to the best of my ability, to recall the various church renderings of numerous Negro spirituals that I grew up with, and within this form I attempted to construct the melodic and harmonic first chorus of what was to become the 'Hymn To Freedom.'" Perhaps the Mendelssohn phrase surfaced unconsciously from the classical piano lessons his sister Daisy gave him when he was a boy.

The title of Moyer's album, When Summer Comes, derives from the two songs of that name that Peterson wrote, both of which are included. The first—pleasant enough if a trifle overblown in its closing stages— dates from 1981, forming part of his "Royal Wedding Suite," for the ill-fated union of England's Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The second—lighter, more compact and more frequently performed—he wrote in 1995.

Moyer recorded all the numbers as "relaxing interludes" while interpreting early 20th century works by Rachmaninov, Prokofief, Bartok and Debussy. His treatments of "Georgia On My Mind," "The Shadow Of Your Smile," Erroll Garner's "Misty" and Bill Evans' "Very Early" are all intelligently constructed and highly listenable. Though the only time he comes close to letting his hair down is on "All Of Me."

His choice of material invites comparison with Peterson, who, while he could be a mite pretentious, moi towards the end of his life, for the most part kept his feet firmly on the ground and had an excellent feel for the blues when someone like Norman Granz reminded him of the fact.

Moyer has technique in abundance. It's emotional content that's missing.

Track Listing: When Summer Comes (1995); My One And Only Love; Georgia On My Mind; When Summer Comes (1981); The Shadow Of Your Smile; Very Early; Only Trust Your Heart; Misty; All Of Me; It Might As Well Be Spring; Gospel.

Personnel: Frederick Moyer: piano.

Title: When Summer Comes | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: JRI Recordings

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