The best solo performance albums bring an intimacy to the affair that locks the listener in place. A byproduct of the interaction between musician and instrument is the creation of an inviting environment which draws the listener in, and, ultimately, the two-way interaction of musician-instrument becomes a triangle.
It’s not a question of easy tempos or gentle melodies. Songs can be upbeat and abrupt and dissonant. The key is in not breaking the bond between listener and musician, a risk that increases as the voices present on a particular recording decreases. However, risk aside, the solo performance is an opportunity for the musician to embrace the innate vulnerability that incubates within the solitude of just musician and instrument. To share that with the listener can have a transformative effect.
On Clarity, the new release by piano veteran Laszlo Gardony, the album isn’t an album. The speakers become a window that opens upon a small room, empty of everything but Gardony and his piano. The album transforms the music into a live event, spontaneous and full of life and profound thoughtfulness.
Your album personnel: Laszlo Gardony (piano).
The album is a series of meditative pieces, and possess an interconnectedness that persists even after the silence drops between one song’s end and the beginning of the next.
Opening track “Settling of a Racing Mind” flirts with a rambunctious attitude, but slips into an introspective reverie that leads into second track “Surface Reflections” without missing a bit. The tone set is one thick with cerebral weightiness and an accompanying shot to the heart.
“Looking Deeper” takes things from a melancholic depth to a higher elevation… an ambling staggered cadence, notes falling in quick succession, hints of gospel, hints of pop, and all of it thoughtfully expressed. “Finding Strength” is its more cheerful counterpart.
“Better Place” quickens the pulse and thickens the blues. Upbeat in that special way that the blues can still be hopeful while conveying a sense of weariness… a smile and a sadness. “Opened Window (Hopeful Horizon)” and “Tempering” push the envelope of that ratio, whereas subsequent song “Resilient Joy” brings a folk charm to a tune that possesses the exuberant heart of a stride and the soul of a blues. Album closer “Resolution (Perfect Place)” ends with an equally upbeat tone, but stated with a calm restraint.
And it all sounds like the music was delivered in person, just the musician, the piano, and you.
Released on the Sunnyside Records label.
Jazz from the Boston scene.
As I was creating links for this review, I noticed Gardony’s background on this album, located on the About Me page of his site. It makes for some very insightful reading on his own thoughts about Clarity. You can read it on his site HERE.