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Frederick Moyer: When Summer Comes

Nicholas F. Mondello By

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A hardened cynic might think it could be a "grass is greener" rationale for a world-class concert pianist to take on a slew of GAS and jazz standards and record them in a solo format. "Ego-brushing," might also be tossed about. However, in the case of When Summer Comes a fine solo effort by Frederick Moyer, both descriptions are wildly off-base.

Moyer, well-known throughout the concert performance world, is indeed a keyboard virtuoso. His classical repertoire specialties are the lush, expressive works of Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Schumann, and other Masters. However, assuming the "same" bench and black-and-whites of the Keith Jarretts, Bill Evans and Oscar Petersons (each of whom have or had awesome technical chops), Moyer here is apparently enjoying his forays into quiet, late-night jazz.

While not a pure improvisation exposition, When Summer Comes is indeed a fine portrait of an inspired, involved pianist with a magnificent emotional feel for the jazz topic. A melodic purist, Moyer covers workhorses such as Erroll Garner's "Misty," a double serving of Peterson's "When Summer Comes," and Evans's "Very Early" without fawning to either the artists or the weight of the selections. Moyer's prior work with his Jazz Arts Trio (performing note-for-note transcriptions of solos by some of the aforementioned), has further acquainted Moyer with the vocabulary, stylistic shadings—and swing—of jazz.

Understand that Moyer is prudent enough to focus on melodic and harmonic beauty, as opposed to extended freer improv. There's little "stretching out" and no "jive jazz," but, a Grand Canyon panorama of beautiful touch, expression, and rhythmic nuance. Well-known melodies take on mildly different, intriguing colorings where nothing is square-edged, forced or faked. Dynamically, is a gem. The predominant keyboard key word here is "intimate."

Some years ago, the famed talk-show host, Johnny Carson sheepishly asked Frank Sinatra who Ol' Blue Eyes listened to in quiet, romantic moments. Sinatra quipped "Ravel, Debussy and those guys." Smart money would wager that should this fine recording have been available at that time, the Chairman would have probably added "and that cat, Moyer, too!"

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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