Artist: James Tocco
Album: American Piano
Release Date: March 4, 2008
If one desires an album of lively new music played by a lively artist, then this CD will certainly entertain. Tocco relishes the pieces and he sounds almost unstoppable as he plays a variety of works by different composers. John Downey’s Pyramids opens the album with brief riffs followed by piano lines that interlock and intertwine, interrupted here and there by a seemingly Egyptian riff. Tocco sounds like a confident, cheerful, extroverted pianist who is there to share his joy with the listener.
The Variations for Piano show a variety of moods and characters, from beautiful blossoms to clear phrasing to noodling jazz passages in the piano. There are indeed clear patterns, melodies one might argue. Tocco handles the dotted rhythms with great precision, playing them with a bright, sunny sound. In Fantasy Pieces by Joel Hoffman, it is difficult to characterize or fully analyze the music; rather, the listener simply has to go with the music.
Tocco plays them with a warm, full sound, such as in the “Interlude & IV, Moderato Lirico.” True, sometimes the music tends to sound a bit random and undifferentiated; the first Foss piece seems like an extension of the last movement of Fantasy Pieces.
Perhaps it is Foss’ Scherzo ricercato and Fantasy Rondo that show off his composing best.
Tocco brings the Scherzo alive with great vigor. There is a section of great whimsy with a dotted rhythm and tremendous power in the lower registers at the end. The Fantasy Rondo has a rich, jazz feel to it; Foss’ music is more densely textured than much new music. Tocco’s energy never ceases as he plays into the piano with passion. The overall effect of this album is one of cheer and happiness, and fans of the artist and/or the composers will certainly rejoice.
|Pyramids / John Downey||James Tocco||7:40|
|Variations for Piano / Bernard Heiden||James Tocco||12:54|
|1. Lento / Joel Hoffman||James Tocco||2:38|
|Interlude & 2. Scherzando / Joel Hoffman||James Tocco||2:22|
|Interlude & 3. Fantastico / Joel Hoffman||James Tocco||3:39|
|Interlude & 4. Moderato Lirico / Joel Hoffman||James Tocco||3:48|
|Interlude & 5. Tenebroso / Joel Hoffman||James Tocco||4:28|
|Four Two-Voiced Inventions|
|1. Introduction, Andante / Lukas Foss||James Tocco||3:06|
|2. Allegretto / Lukas Foss||James Tocco||2:12|
|3. Tranquillo ma mosso / Lukas Foss||James Tocco||1:20|
|4. Molto Vivace / Lukas Foss||James Tocco||1:49|
|Scherzo ricercato / Lukas Foss||James Tocco||5:13|
|Fantasy Rondo / Lukas Foss||James Tocco||8:30|