The legendary pianist Joe Albany, whose career was largely fouled up by drugs, recorded several rewarding sets during 1971-82. This solo album (originally recorded for the Japanese Trio label before being made available domestically on an obscure SeaBreeze Lp) is relaxed, thoughtful and shows off Albany's roots in the bop era although the pianist generally sounded at his best in a trio setting. Highlights include "A.B. (After Bird) Blues II," "You Stepped Out Of A Dream" and "A Night In Tunisia."
Looking at pianist Joe Albany's life in hindsight, it is miraculous that he lived to almost reach 64. Serious problems with drugs and alcohol resulted in a series of harrowing incidents and his domestic life would never be described as tranquil (his second wife committed suicide while his third almost died from a drug overdose). Albany's life was so erratic that he only recorded once during 1947-1971. However, Joe Albany's real importance is as one of the early bop pianists. After playing accordion as a child, he switched to piano in high school and in 1942 joined Leo Watson's group. He had short-term associations with Benny Carter, Georgie Auld, Boyd Raeburn, and most significantly Charlie Parker…
All of the works on this recording evidence the hallmarks of Martin Amlin's style: a facile flow of elaborate rhythms; a harmonic language rich with the notes that comprise seventh chords; a non-strict usage of tone rows; an honoring of the past through recognizable formal structure and thematic evolution; and a French sensibility that might be described as neo-impressionistic. A student of Nadia Boulanger, Martin Amlin received masters and doctoral degrees from the Eastman School of Music. He is the recipient of numerous prizes and awards and has been a resident at Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the MacDowell Colony. A member of the faculty at Boston University, he is also director of the Boston University Tanglewood Institute Young Artists Composition Program. A noted pianist as well, he performs the works on this CD with noted artists Leone Buyse and Michael Webster, who have long been advocates of his music.
Winner of a Pulitzer Prize and a GRAMMY® Award, Christopher Rouse is one of America’s most prominent composers of orchestral music, creating a body of work perhaps unequalled in its emotional intensity. Conceived from the start as differing from a traditional piano concerto, Seeing brings together seemingly disparate elements to explore the notion of ‘sanity’ through the music of Robert Schumann and Skip Spence, swinging between extremes of consonance and dissonance, stability and instability, to create a disorientating and hallucinatory work seen through the lens of mental illness. Kabir Padavali or ‘Kabir Songbook’ presents a range of the great Indian poet’s religious concerns, from extraordinarily beautiful ecstasy to impishly humorous allegories.
This mostly ballad-oriented trio set with bassist George Duvivier and drummer Charlie Persip was pianist Joe Albany's final recording. Albany, whose career (especially on records) did not really get going until his final decade, is in generally good form on such tunes as "Autumn In New York," "They Say It's Wonderful" and "Confirmation." The album concludes with a brief interview that sums up some aspects of his episodic life.