Pianist and music polymath Paul Grabowsky claims this solo piano recording has been a long time coming, and clichés about the worthiness of the wait are barely adequate for this splendid collection. The program of eight originals and two standards opens with Angel, a beautiful ballad and Grabowsky favourite that encompasses the breadth and depth of a Schoenberg piano piece. In refracted hints of that classical composer there are sparsely used, carefully chosen opaque atonal chords, delicate high treble statements and flourishes, and a deep sumptuousness, but the whole is imbued with unmistakable jazz influences. Those aspects are evident throughout this unhurried album where the essence is introspection infused with sparkling invention.
The standard, I Get Along Without You Very Well is perfectly suited to the mood as Grabowsky guides it sensitively through its meandering trail of beautiful harmonies. The other standard ‘Round Midnight extends Monk’s already extended chords even further and imparts an out-of-rhythm feel to the piece that almost, but never quite, drops it right out of tempo. There’s an almost visual sketch conjured in Helix as the melody winds and spirals to portray the title, while Stars Apart engenders a cosmic wandering in a performance that would make an ideal soundscape for a slow pan by the Hubble telescope.
Solo is co-produced by ABC Jazz’s Gerry Koster, presenter of ‘Jazz Up Late’. This album is a rarity where the subject imagery of music titles is painted with superb imagination and interpretation, and all with Grabowsky’s seemingly effortless technique.