All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

377

Ron Thomas: Wings of the Morning

Budd Kopman By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Ron Thomas has led an extremely interesting life, musically and otherwise, and it is distilled into the lovely and intense set of pieces on Wings of the Morning, originally recorded in 1978, and now reissued on CD.

Training from a young age to be a concert pianist, Thomas eventually realized that the rigors and mindset necessary for that kind of musical life were not his forte, and he turned to composition, studying with many famous people in the classical world including Karlheinz Stockhausen and Stefan Wolpe. Introduced to jazz in his mid-twenties, he was bowled over by Miles Davis, Gil Evans and Bill Evans, whose harmonic language was strongly influenced by Claude Debussy, who had shattered Thomas' musical world at age fifteen.

Completely improvised—except for "En Reve" by Franz Liszt, who was one of his musical idols—the pieces represent the kind of music he was composing at the time. An avid reader and thinker about the creative arts, a keen intelligence informs Thomas' music; and these pieces, although improvised, sound composed, which is an indication of the strength and speed of his musical mind.

Regardless of what he, or any of his piano teachers, thought of his physical playing abilities, Thomas' touch can be extremely subtle. He is a master of the sustain pedal, and has more than enough technique to do anything his mind asks his hands to do.

Just as important as how the music is played, is what is played; and Wings of the Morning does easily what much music works hard to do, which is to create a sound world which literally engulfs the listener. The music is unabashedly Romantic, and revels in its power to affect the listener.

The first thing that will strike the listener is the high degree of harmonic control that underpins the music, despite the fact that most of the time, clear movement is avoided. The music flows logically, while at the same time singing and emoting in exaltation.

In the liner notes, Thomas describes the title track and "Orpheus" as "more restrained and objective" than the others, which are "poetic, subjective, rhapsodic." The first of these tracks has echoes of a Bach prelude, albeit shifted forward two hundred years in its abstraction, thus projecting more emotions and less images. "Orpheus" is a bit more romantic, but never gives in, and treads right to the edge line separating emotions and images.

The Liszt piece, not surprisingly, fits right in with the more romantic pieces, although its melodic content is more direct. The pause between the first and second parts is startling at first. The melodic line seems to die off into the high harmonics of the string, and the piece could have ended, but the second part raises musical imagery to a very high peak.

Whether Wings of the Morning is called jazz or not is immaterial; it is improvisational playing of the highest order.

Track Listing: Wings of the Morning; Cossacks and Wolves on the Frozen River; Orpheus; Oostkapelle; En Reve; Dusk of the Nightlands.

Personnel: Ron Thomas: piano.

Title: Wings of the Morning | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Vectordisc Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Duo

Duo

Vectordisc Records
2016

buy
Impatience

Impatience

Vectordisc Records
2015

buy
Two Lonely People

Two Lonely People

Vectordisc Records
2011

buy
Galaxy

Galaxy

Vectordisc Records
2009

buy
Elysium

Elysium

Vectordisk
2009

buy
Blues for Zarathustra

Blues for Zarathustra

Art of Life Records
2008

buy

Related Articles

Read Dreams And Other Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Dreams And Other Stories
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 22, 2018
Read The Nook CD/LP/Track Review
The Nook
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 22, 2018
Read Julius Eastman - Piano Interpretations CD/LP/Track Review
Julius Eastman - Piano Interpretations
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 22, 2018
Read Moments Before CD/LP/Track Review
Moments Before
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 22, 2018
Read From The Vault: No Security, San Jose '99 (2CD + SD Blu Ray) CD/LP/Track Review
From The Vault: No Security, San Jose '99 (2CD + SD...
by John Kelman
Published: September 22, 2018
Read with whom you can be who you are CD/LP/Track Review
with whom you can be who you are
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 21, 2018
Read "Open Borders" CD/LP/Track Review Open Borders
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 1, 2017
Read "The Princess" CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Ancient Agents" CD/LP/Track Review Ancient Agents
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 28, 2017
Read "Glow of Benares" CD/LP/Track Review Glow of Benares
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 12, 2017
Read "Currents, Constellations" CD/LP/Track Review Currents, Constellations
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 14, 2018
Read "Colours of Sound" CD/LP/Track Review Colours of Sound
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 23, 2018