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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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GEOFF EALES

Epicentre

33 Records 33JAZZ 162

 

 

 



1. Boundless
2. Gospel Truth
3. Dreams To Dust
4. The Black Path
5. Prayer
6. Seismic Shift
7. Haunted Heart
8. When Words Are Not Enough
9. Eternal Dance
 
Geoff Eales - Piano

 

You might call Geoff Eales a late developer, because he only began to concentrate on a career as a jazz pianist a few years ago. Yet he had previously built up a wealth of experience as a member of the BBC Big Band and then working as a studio musician with everyone from Shirley Bassey and Andy Williams to Kiri Te Kanawa and José Carreras. Since his debut solo jazz album in 1999, Geoff has consolidated his reputation both as a solo pianist and as leader of a fine trio.

This new CD sees him working alone, recording these tracks informally at a studio in May. All but two of the nine tracks are first takes. Haunted Heart (by Howard Dietz & Arthur Schwartz) is the only jazz standard – the remainder are compositions by Eales himself. Although the tracks are given individual titles, this session sounds as if it was almost wholly improvised – resembling the solo piano recitals for which Keith Jarrett is famous. Most tracks are meditative inventions rather than improvisations based on a particular chord sequence or melody. In fact Eales often sounds remarkably like Jarrett, with a similar predilection for pastoral themes interspersed with the blues.

As with Keith Jarrett, the listener occasionally gets the impression that the pianist is rambling in search of an idea. This album is thus very different from Geoff's work with his trio, where the music is inevitably more structured. In some ways I prefer the trio sessions, because they allow for interplay between piano, bass and drums. However, Eales's intelligence and technique come together here to make some absorbing music. The album's variety is illustrated by three tracks in the middle. Prayer is like a placid composition by Debussy, whereas Seismic Shift sounds like a showy cadenza from a piano concerto, and the aforementioned Haunted Heart is a gently haunting ballad.

Like his previous albums, this CD proves we can be grateful that Geoff chose to strike out as a jazz pianist instead of sticking to accompanying other artists. He made the right decision, and we jazz fans are the beneficiaries.

Tony Augarde

 

 

 

 



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