ALAN PASQUA — Soliloquy (review)

ALAN PASQUA — Soliloquy album cover Album · 2018 · Post Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
js
Just like most other fusion fans in the 70s, my initial introduction to Alan Pasqua was through his work with Tony Williams and Alan Holdsworth in Tony’s second Lifetime outfit. Although he was working in the shadow of Holdsworth’s rising star, Pasqua still managed to shine on his own with some Herbie Hancock influenced funk fusion on the electric keys. Over the years, Alan moved beyond the aid of the electronics and began to record more as an acoustic pianist playing post bop and contemporary originals. This leads us to Alan’s latest opus, “Soliloquy”, on which he takes on the ultimate challenge, a solo piano date. Alan’s set list on here is mostly standards, with a couple of pop tunes thrown in as well, but everything blends into a smoothly flowing fifty minute concert.

Alan’s piano style seems to pull from many influences, the expected Bill Evans post bop is here, but also some things that reach back further to the era of Ellington and Art Tatum, and all tempered with a laid back lounge type feel ala Ahmad Jamal. Pasqua’s arrangements are imaginative as he re-constructs the harmonies and melodies on many of these well known tunes. Some songs may be barely recognizable at first, which only makes them all the more interesting. The best tracks are the several Ellington covers. The Duke’s music gives Alan the most to play with harmonically, and Pasqua responds by endowing Ellington’s music with subtle classical flavors. If anyone has ever doubted the connection between Ellington and French impressionism, you can really hear it here.

Although “Soliloquy” is an inventive jazz performance, it also functions well as sophisticated background music, and I seriously doubt that was by accident. Saying an album makes for good background may sound like a slight, but it isn’t at all, creating the perfect mood for a romantic dinner and a bottle (or box) of wine is an art in itself. Whether as a deep listening experience, or just ambience that even a non-jazz fan would enjoy, “Soliloquy” is quite simply a beautiful piano performance.
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