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New York Electric Piano: Keys To The City Volumes 1 & 2
New York Electric Piano started life as an instrumental trio but have since morphed into an eight piece jazz band that have their own unique style. Their new album is a double disc set Keys To The City Volumes 1 & 2 and is their fifth overall. The original band members Pat Daugherty (vocals, keyboards), Aaron Comess (drums) and Tim Givens (upright bass) are still the core of the band but are joined by five other very capable musicians including the talented vocalists Deanna Kirk and Ava Farber.
The music found on their latest is more than your typical jazz album as the band touches on funk, R & B, progressive rock, classic and free jazz. It is a diverse mix of elements and for the most part works very well. Given the name of the band it is not surprising the focus is on Daugherty's piano and I have to say it is excellent throughout. That said, this is a full band offering with all players excelling on their chosen instruments. While this is a modern sounding recording there is an old school vibe at work here mainly due to the classic sounding jazz vocals of Kirk and Farber. This ambitious offering contains two discs, the first having vocals while the second is all instrumental.
The first disc is my favourite of the two mainly because the vocals are done so well. The first song "The Modern World" is an organ drenched jazz tune with sultry female vocals emitting that old style jazzy feel reminding me of what you would hear in a smoke filled jazz bar. The funky "Very Nice" features R & B guitar rhythms with Daugherty's vocals a nice compliment to the female vox. The melodic sax work of Erik Lawrence is a nice touch. In "Planet Spins Around" Daugherty's frolicking piano lines intermingle with Lawrence's flute and sax while "N.Y.E.P." features Teddy Kumpel's heavier guitar stylings before bursts of sax and a cacophony of instrumentation adds a brashness to the sound. In contrast, "Power of Peace" has a laid back groove and a melodic, relaxing sound. The first CD ends on a darker note with "In This Land", a slighter edgier song with an exotic touch and a repeating vocal melody that you will be hard pressed to get out of your head.
The second disc starts with a bang with the rocking jazz of "Fast Food Socrates" featuring some ripping bass and guitar and the ballsy "Instrumental Health" where heavier guitar work is matched by swells of organ and rippling saxophone. In contrast, the balladic "Tears of a Skyscraper" is a moodier piece with gentle guitar playing and an overall dreamy atmosphere. This disc may be a more challenging listen as the melodies do not necessarily jump out but the music may actually be a little more adventurous. A case in point is the complex "Area 6 7 8" with its funky grooves and spontaneous improvisation.
For those seeking melodic, yet complex jazz that touches on a number of styles, New York Electric Piano may hold the key to your listening pleasure.
Volume 1 Vocal
1. The Modern World (4:56)
2. Very Nice (3:37)
3. Planet Spins Around (3:31)
4. Temple Dog (3:45)
5. Incantation (3:23)
6. Scrapple for the Apple (4:56)
7. Dance of the Hours (4:02)
8. The Day I Fell For You (3:05)
9. N.Y.E.P. (3:06)
10. Power of Peace (4:42)
11. This Time Its On (3:07)
12. I Want Love (5:18)
13. Life Comes Into Being (3:41)
14. In This Land (4:57)
Volume 2 Instrumental
1. Fast Food Socrates (4:25)
2. Instrumental Health (4:37)
3. Tears of a Skyscraper (6:26)
4. Area 6 7 8 (5:32)
5. Dode's Blues (4:20)
6. 2nd Millennium Rag (3:39)
7. Rocket the Pocket (4:25)
8. Deep Time Waltz (4:10)
9. Knock Turn (6:25)
Added: March 25th 2011
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Band's Official Site
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