Oh how I like
this CD! A word of warning though. If your palette
can only stomach soporific music, then this CD is
most definitely not for you. This is sit up and take
notice music, and would awaken one from even the
Blues music has
played a big part in Philip Aaberg's life. Indeed,
he recorded six albums with Elvin Bishop in his
younger days. Aaberg is at pains to point out that
this is his own Blues' style- "I was never inclined
to play "pure" blues, or "pure" anything.... This is
a Blues record... maybe not a "pure" blues record by
some definitions or store labels, but it is MY blues
record... a Montana blues record." Perhaps this will
give you some idea as to what to expect from this
gets the CD off to a rollicking start, with a
distinctive blues feel to the track. It has a very
memorable melody, and this is one of many tracks on
this CD which amply demonstrates Aaberg's
considerable technique. There is much to admire
here! Following on from this, is the equally
impressive and even more upbeat "Sea Level Shuffle
(Part 1)". With dancing fingers, Aaberg is clearly
as one with the piano. Many pianists can demonstrate
pyrotechnics with the piano, but few can match
technique with hugely impressive melodies.
"Yellowstone Paddlewheel" is an interesting piece,
with an illuminating insight from Aaberg himself in
the linear notes. Again with reference to bringing
his own unique slant on the Blues, he states about
the piece, "A road doesn't always take us around the
block. Occasionally, I'll abandon tradition and use
what Zawinul calls "crystal structure"... organic
form....[on this track] the slow, funky gospel feel
comes back; it's like travelling on a river...
you're on the same boat, but there's something new
around every bend."
Track 4, "That
Train" is another favourite. Philip Aaberg seems to
compose music about trains with a passion like no
other. Once again, this piece captures the thrill,
the power and the energy- not to mention the rhythm-
of the trains that pass through his home city
(Chester, in Montana) with great frequency. "Rocky
Boy Blues", as the title would suggest, is bluesy
and a delight! The man's ear for a good melody
doesn't let him down at all on this CD, and this
track provides clear evidence of that. Track 6,
"Double Back at 'Ya" is rather calmer and more
laid-back to begin with, but soon develops into a
more lively piece. That said, it is still one of the
more reflective pieces in this collection.
One of the
things I like best about this CD is the variation in
the music. One never quite knows what to expect
Time" has a feel of an improvisation. It is fairly
slow-paced, but still makes the listener sit up and
pay attention. "Blue West", the eighth track, is
livelier, with a steady rhythm- but still fairly
restrained by Aaberg's standards! Track 9 is most
curious indeed... the opening minute or so features
what sounds like a very old recording of a blues'
singer, with a piece possibly entitled, "I can't
sleep"- Aaberg then takes over with his own
interpretation, perhaps ironically entitled, "The
Dream of Montana Taylor".
cut on the entire CD is the tenth- "Little Brother".
This is brilliant! A great melody, and piano played
with real passion and at great tempo. Very upbeat,
and a joy to listen to from beginning to end! Bravo!
Fourteen Dollars is a frantic piece, with Aaberg
hammering away on the ivories. I also enjoyed the
penultimate track, "Sea Level Shuffle (part 2), but
there is something special about the closing track,
"Coyote Midnight Blues". I can picture myself in a
smoky, darkened room in some US city, late at night
listening to this. A great way to close the CD.
enjoyed this CD. It gets a lot of play-time, and
deservedly so! Philip Aaberg is clearly a master of
his craft. As an aside, Aaberg used a Yamaha S6
concert grand piano for this recording, which was
recorded between April and June of 2005 at "The Bin"
Sweetgrass Music Studios in Chester, Montana, USA.
recording, and one that I very highly recommend.