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CD REVIEW: David Alstead - Pieces of Piano
By JJ Biener - 10/21/2006 - 08:09 PM EDT

Artist: David Alstead
Album: Pieces of Piano
CD Review: David Alstead
Pieces of Piano

Itís Saturday night. You have a few friends coming over for a dinner party. You have spent the afternoon getting the house ready and preparing your signature dishes. These are good friends so you want a comfortable atmosphere. Nothing pretentious. Nothing overly formal. The final detail is to choose the music to play during the meal. You want something that isnít going to drown out the conversation with its intensity. You also donít want something so bland that your guests will fall asleep should there be a pause in the conversation while they enjoy the fruits of your culinary skills.

I might suggest David Alsteadís solo piano work Pieces of Piano. This collection of 13 Jazz pieces is consistently interesting without being obtrusive. It works equally well as background for conversation or as the main focus of oneís attention. These pieces avoid the monotony that some New Age pianists fall into while avoiding the dissonance that marks more Avant-garde works.

As a pianist myself, I am both enamored of and highly critical of attempts at solo piano work. I know well from personal experience the potential pitfalls of trying to support a piece of music with a single instrument without the benefits of overdubbing. I am happy (and perhaps somewhat envious) to report that David succeeds admirably on this CD. His composition skills are solid. His performances are smooth and sure. The recording is well produced, well engineered and well mastered.

The opening track is a somewhat wistful piece aptly titled Nymph. It is easy to imagine this being used as the background for an animated film a la Fantasia. It combines the harmonies of jazz with a lilting melody to create an almost visual appeal.

Sometimes I Feel has a more melancholy feel to it. It is slow and contemplative without being mournful. Flip Side is more upbeat without losing the complexity of emotion.

Each piece in this collection is distinct and can stand on its own merits. It is also clear that these piece all came from the same mind. They flow from one to the next effortlessly. If solo piano is your thing, David Alsteadís Pieces of Piano should be in your collection. Even if solo piano is not really your thing, this CD could still fit well. Check out Davidís web site at www.davidalstead.com.



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