heartening to know that tucked away out there in the
vast piano music labyrinth are CDs of high calibre
such as this one that somehow have bypassed me over
the years. As the old saying goes, "better late than
never", and it has been with a sense of real joy
that I have been listening to this CD on a regular
basis over the last few weeks.
titled (or arguably not titled at all), Jeff Herge's
"Jeff Herge" has certainly made an impression on
this listener. Released in 1992, this thirteen track
CD maintains a consistently high standard throughout
and is refreshing in its originality and vitality.
It would appear that Jeff has released nothing
since- all the more reason then to lap up this
musical feast- a joy to the palette.
The CD opens
with "Jeffrey's theme"- and from the title, I am
assuming this is either his trademark piece or
possibly his first composition. Either way, it is a
beauty. The track typifies the composer's ear for
melody. Whilst by no means one of the more energetic
pieces, it serves well to illustrate that this is
music that is far more than just background fluff.
Jeff's compositions are not for drifting to sleep
to; rather I find myself sitting up and listening
intently to the development of each track.
bars to "Patricia Ann" introduce the listener to a
few notes recurring on a number of occasions
throughout the CD. I have no idea as to the identity
of Patricia Ann, but the composition is gentle,
relaxing and very beautiful. It has often occurred
to me that having a piece on a CD named after
oneself must be the ultimate gift for the recipient;
the lucky lady must be honoured. Listening to this
track provides further evidence of the talent that
this composer undoubtedly possesses.
is the CD's third track. This is soft, welcome
snowfall. A more beautiful tune you would be
hard-pressed to hear. After the lovely opening,
comes a gorgeous section at 1:30, which is both
playful and graceful. This is no intense snow-storm-
this is a delicate dusting which brings joy to the
people around. Equally impressive is the delightful
ending to the piece- perhaps the snow has finished
creating its visually beautiful landscape, and it is
us, the listeners, that benefit through the audio
snapshot of the completed image.
three could be described as ‘beautiful’, track four
surpasses it and then some. I have always had a
fascination for rain, and how the piano seems to be
the perfect instrument to capture the sound of the
ensuing raindrops. I have literally dozens of pieces
which represent rain in its different stages and
forms. Jeff Herge's piece is up there with the very
best. The notes previously referred to in track two
resurface and are developed into the most exquisite
of melodies. I never tire of this track. Rather like
the powdery snow in the previous track, this is no
rain-storm. If rain can be welcome and beautiful, it
is to be found within this piece. This is another
relatively short-piece, fairly typical of the
composer. Most tracks are between two and three
minutes long, and are only as long as the piece
needs to be. An outstanding track.
change of mood is heard in track five. As the title
would suggest, "Stormy Days" contrasts sharply with
earlier pieces. The discord in the opening section-
both intimidating and exciting- represents the
gathering threat, the rumbling thunder and the
imminent rain. This is no ordinary storm! Jeff Herge
shows masterful control of the piano and he uses the
instrument to tremendous effect. The rain is lashing
the Earth. With lots of imagery conjured up from the
energetic playing, this would be a perfect piece for
dance groups wanting to represent a storm.
Gradually, the thunder quietens; the rain eases. The
storm is passing. What a piece of music!
is the curiously titled sixth track of the CD. At
just over two minutes in duration, this is one of
the shorter pieces. It has quite a dramatic
fan-fare-style opening, and then settles into a
slightly more sedate form as the piece progresses,
before reaching a dramatic climax. As with every
piece, the track captivates the listener from
beginning to end.
Stones" is the CD's seventh track. Its up-tempo
opening suggests to me the rushing of water. Jeff
Herge clearly has a love of water, and his
enthusiasm for the subject is obviously
inspirational to him. Another very short track, this
is again great fun for both the listener, and, I
rather suspect, the composer as well.
group of notes return again in the next track.
"Impending Love" slows things right down, and is one
of the album's more reflective and gentler pieces.
It is also very melodic, and it is a source of
fascination to me that Jeff Herge manages to
seamlessly incorporate those notes again-
once more to great effect.
"Her Eyes" is
another quiet piece. I get the feeling that in some
ways this is an autobiographical album, capturing
key moments in the composer's life. The CD's ninth
track is stunningly beautiful. The tempo is again
slowed right down. There are no other distractions
here- the eyes are definitely the focus of
attention. This is a tremendous track.
With Jeff Herge,
the quality music just keeps coming and coming,
amply illustrated by track 10, entitled "Expressed
Reflections". As the title would suggest, the
opening is certainly contemplative. At around 1.15,
the tempo changes and the music becomes more upbeat.
What never changes, however, is the composer's gift
to consistently deliver appealing melody time and
"Winter's Reign" is not as dramatic as one might
expect from the title. However, it is apparent that
winter is seizing its grip. Another winning melody,
another winning piece of music.
track is entitled, "Times to Remember", and is a
reflective piece. Open the wine, sit back, relax and
The final track
is a medley of two of the earlier tracks, "Stormy
Days" and "Raindrops". Curiously, the storm comes
before the raindrops; perhaps the thunder peters out
leaving the refreshing and rejuvenating rain behind.
Regardless, it is most welcome as the little theme
that emerges again is one of the most appealing
melodies I have ever heard.
At a shade
under forty minutes, Jeff Herge delivers a highly
memorable CD which blows away the listener with its
brilliance and sheer energy. The only disappointment
here is that the composer has not released anything
since 1992. Hopefully, this will change at some
point in the not-too-distant future. I read at the
composer's web-site that he is a great fan of some
of my all-time favourite pianists, George Winston,
David Lanz et al, and whilst it must be remembered
that this composer has his own "voice", I can't help
but feel that if the great composers themselves
listened to their "apprentice's" music, the
resulting respect would be mutual. And that is the
greatest compliment I can pay to this immensely
talented musician. This is an extremely impressive
CD (currently available from CD Baby for the
ridiculously cheap price of $10), and I give it my
highest recommendation. Bravo!