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Matthew Ruddick

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Author of Funny Valentine, an acclaimed new biography of the jazz trumpet player and singer, Chet Baker.
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Friday, 11 September 2020 17:31

Andrew McCormack - Solo

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McCormack's short story masterclass.

The latest album by London-based pianist, Andrew McCormack, mostly pre-dates his prog-jazz work with Graviton (Graviton from 2017, The Calling from 2019). He later re-visited his solo sessions from 2016, and decided he was on to something, adding some fresh solo recordings to the venture in 2019.

As anyone who has witnessed McCormack’s solo performances will testify, he is a mesmerizing pianist, and Solo captures his spirit to good effect. It’s a mix of more recent compositions, older compositions, re-visited, and some well-chosen covers, given a quite distinctive read. McCormack plays a Steinway Model D Concert grand on this album, and the recording, which took place at the Master Chord Studio in London, is quite exquisite, capturing every nuance of his playing.

Watch a teaser for the album here:

The album opens with the restless Dream Capture, McCormack’s ode to Carl Jung, which jumps around, as dreams do, but returns to the main theme. Crystal Glass, which follows, is more delicate, exploring some sharper edges as the tunes progresses, but returning to the beauty which inspired the piece. Nomad was more meticulously crafted, according to the liner notes, and takes the listener on a journey. As a musician, McCormack comes across as a master short-storyteller, providing the listener with perfectly-formed miniatures, with not a note out of place.

The covers are no less engaging. Monk’s Wee See is dissected, but reveals that stripped-down Monk is still Monk, which is no bad thing. I Can’t Believe You’re In Love With Me includes a reference to Stravinsky’s Pulcinella, whilst his playing on Nobody Else But Me is frequently quite dazzling.

I particularly enjoyed Adagio, his gentle, baroque composition, influenced by Mahler, and Prospect Park, inspired by his time living in New York several years ago - a tune which also appears on First Light (2014).

Solo records and concerts demand an element of bravery and leave nowhere for the musician to hide. We should be grateful that McCormack re-visited this project, and hope that we are given the chance to witness his solo performances first-hand in the near future. In the meantime, there’s plenty to enjoy here.

 

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