Piano-Heaven Award Winner:

Live from Montana

Philip Aaberg

Sweetgrass Music

  2000

www.philipaaberg.com

 

 

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This is a splendid CD. Covering a range of styles, from gentle, soothing music to full-blown pyrotechnics, this live CD showcases some of the former Windham Hill pianist's finest tracks. Recorded at Chester High School auditorium in front of an All-School Reunion, the audience included none other than a certain Mr. George Winston- of whom many would consider to be the original New Age pianist. Winston shares Philip Aaberg's love of Montana, and both write extensively with their homeland acting as an inspiration.

The CD opens with the quiet "High Plains", with Aaberg tinkering initially on the high notes of the piano register at slow tempo, before the pace quickens and a pretty melody unfolds. The second track combines "The Big Open" and "Upright", and lasts for over ten minutes. Some great piano playing is on show here. "Before Barbed Wire" is the album's third track, and is more quiet and reflective- although it has its moments! Many would consider "Marias River Breakdown" to be Philip's most popular piece, and it is no surprise that it makes an appearance here. Differing in parts from its original form, the piece begins with a water-type improvisation which George Winston describes as one of the highlights of the concert. "Beautifully improvised" is high-praise indeed. The piece is a joy to listen to, and successfully captures the rhythm of the water. On "Welcome to the Church of St. Anytime", Philip really goes for it! Soothing music this is not!

A personal favourite of mine is Track 7, entitled "Westbound". It would seem that a railroad cuts through the city, with trains passing through day and night. Philip Aaberg has clearly listened to the sound of the thundering trains, and has come up with a remarkable piece of music which captures these enormous beasts as they continue their journey. What rhythm in this piece! Even more remarkable is someone's divine intervention. As the piece concludes, and the piano falls silent, a passing train's whistle is clearly audible- perfectly on cue, and much to the audience's delight! Perhaps the train driver knew....

The eighth track, "Montano Half-light" sees the tempo return to quieter and more reflective music. It is very beautiful. "Every Deep Dream" rolls along nicely, with a catchy theme. It's a happy piece and very pleasing to the ear. The penultimate track, "Frogman", sees Philip demonstrating his virtuoso playing ability. This rocks, man! The CD closes on a calmer note with "Going-to-the-Sun". Aaberg's left-hand maintains the toe-tapping rhythm, whilst his right hand teases out a lovely little melody to conclude proceedings.

Philip Aaberg tells a few stories between tracks, and this helps to personalise his music.

Lovers of top-notch piano music covering a range of moods, will really appreciate this CD. With Philip Aaberg, you never quite know what's coming next, but that, as a listener, is to be welcomed as it makes one listen harder. This is music that demands to be listened to. I really enjoyed this CD, and its sister CD, "Blue-West"- also on these review pages.

S.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live from Montana

Philip Aaberg

 

This album was

Grammy-nominated

 

 

Philip Aaberg

Philip Aaberg

 

 

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Little Brother

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