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January/February 2002

Jim Brickman
Simple Things
Windham Hill

With his gift for thematic hook and cascading, dynamic classical technique, pianist Jim Brickman doesn't need many additional trappings for his fire-lit compositions. That said, Simple Things (Windham Hill WADV-11589-2; 45:11) sprinkles a bit of light accompaniment on the mix, lending a welcome change of pace amidst the solo pieces. Brickman's compositions use silence and space as well as note and chord to convey emotion, often using simple motifs, as on the bittersweet "Catching Twilight" and the rhapsodizing "Night Rain." A cinematic nostalgia marks the sweeping piece "The Promise," while the hopeful "Waiting for You" is hesitant and light in the high register of the piano, like the sound equivalent of a child tentatively stepping on an icy pond to see if it holds. The ensemble pieces add just the right twist, like the shaking, lumbering percussion adding warmth to "Serenade" and the light strings lending a chamber-music feel to "Devotion." A single oddity is the vocal piece, "A Mother's Day," essentially a list of everyday "regular things" that, despite its nostalgia, doesn't find the warm lyricism central to this fine album.

Originally published in January/February 2002
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