Scott Kirby, piano
CD review by Jack Rummel
Brejeiro / Chevy Chase / Roberto Clemente / Indifference / Lisette / Top Liner Rag / Crepusculo / Belle of Louisville / Through Eden's Gates / Rosa of Caracas / Berceuse / Weeping Willow / A Medianoche / Tango / Caperucita.
At one time or another, I'm sure each of us has left a concert hall after a particularly memorable performance, wishing we could capture what we had just heard and take it home with us. Scott Kirby has responded to this yearning we all share by releasing this CD, which is designed expressly to mirror one of his concerts and thus includes music from a variety of sources, most of which were thought to have influenced, or were subsequently influenced by, ragtime.
When listening to the music and studying Kirby's articulate and warmly personal liner notes, it becomes apparent that much careful thought went into the planning of this album. There is a harmonious balance between classic ragtime, new ragtime, music of the Americas and the new "terra verde," which may well be a synthesis of all these styles - and more. The disc opens with a sedate rendition of Nazareth's Brejeiro, but quickly bounces into Blake's Chevy Chase, a great performance with all of the stops pulled out. Roberts' Roberto Clemente, a new ragtime favorite, is exquisitely elegiac in Kirby's hands, with the Haitian meringue, Lisette, following, its hypnotic Latin beat recalling the sound of an island string band.
Lamb's Top Liner Rag is next, majestic with just the right lilt, and it sets the stage for Kirby's Crepusculo, one of the most beautiful works in the emerging literature of terra verde. If you are even a bit of a romantic, it will tug at your heartstrings. Two modern-day rags change the pace once again, with French's Belle of Louisville played fast and bright with a trio that really growls in the low octaves, and then Bolcom's Through Eden's Gates, its tempo slow and triumphant.
A heavily-syncopated Latin mazurka, Belasco's Rosa of Caracas, shifts the mood to rousing three-quarter time - Kirby's version is adapted from an old recording that once belonged to Hoagy Carmichael! - but this is then becalmed by a Kirby original, Berceuse, a terra verde lullaby written for his infant daughter. Weeping Willow is classic Joplin, as played by one of today's finest interpreters, and this leads to A Medianoche, a beautiful and poignant tango by Isbitz. The disc closes with another Kirby original, Tango, a bristling, restless tour de force, followed by Caperucita, a European-style waltz of unknown origin, which seems to serve as a genteel encore.
Although one of the younger of today's ragtime pianists, Scott Kirby seems at the top of his form. His touch is always appropriate and the recorded sound pristinely reflects this. Every aspect of this CD speaks of quality, and if you enjoy his varied repertoire in his live performances, this disc will surely become a treasured possession in your collection.
Available for $15.95 postpaid from CD Baby. To order call CD Baby at 1-800-448-6369 or visit the Viridiana Productions website at <www.viridianaproductions.com>.