Solo Piano II
Many years ago I was invited to a luncheon put on by the French Embassy – a music rep was in town (that gives you some idea as to the whole other lifetime ago on another planet that I’m talking about). I went along – I never usually go to such things – and a handful of local hacks were there sizing one another up and arguing all the while that, on the evidence of this particular day, there was such a thing as a free lunch. I was one of the last at the table – the benefit, at the time, of being self-employed. And so when I got chatting to this record company rep she handed me a bunch of CDs. All were new to me – and one was Solo Piano by Gonzales.
It swiftly became a favourite – an album I still play regularly nearly a decade on.
I haven’t been all that taken with the other material by Chilly Gonzales but I admire the talent and approach, I like that he won’t be defined by any one genre, instrument or approach. He seems a restless musical soul – and that’s super-okay with me when there’s talent along for the ride also. And clearly there is. But I’ve longed for a return to what I heard on Solo Piano.
And in the best possible way Solo Piano II offers a return – in that the approach, as it says on the box, is the same but the result is different enough as night to day. Actually, this is more the day-time sound where the first volume was all nocturnal Satie-esque pieces of delicate surprise and intrigue; the piano seeming startled by Gonzales’ touch.
Volume II has a similar approach and feel in many ways, the idea of near-spontaneous composition, but it is the artist nearly a decade on, working quickly still (recorded across 10 days) but with a whole new set of sound influences.
So where Solo Piano was more a case of classical solo piano through the eyes of an electronica artist, Solo Piano II is a hip-hop aesthete’s take on jazz (and classical) piano styles; it’s brighter, shinier – and the Eno/Satie-minimalism is not the obvious go-to; this album pushes the door open where the last was peeking around the corner.
But I’m very pleased to have a second volume – a return to form from Gonzales (now billed as Chilly Gonzales, even on this release). And an album that has that same timeless feel to it as the first volume.