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Andy Laverne: Time to Dream

It is possible to genuinely admire a record without liking it. What is admirable about Time to Dream is, first, that a less-than-famous composer would dare undertake a 73-minute solo piano studio recording of 16 of his own songs. Also admirable is the obvious concentrated dedication with which Andy LaVerne approaches this project.

But solo jazz piano can be an austere art form-especially when all the pieces are about the same length (four plus minutes) and mostly the same tempo (plodding). The titles of LaVerne’s songs are themselves suggestive of a dry, intellectual variety of navel contemplation (“Fair & Balanced,” “After the Fact,” “Ground Lifter”). His process is unfailingly thorough and orderly, and in another context some of his melodies might be appealing. But here, as he ponders his way along, his ascending and descending scales with variations become an endless, airless exercise in self-indulgence.

Presumably LaVerne meant for us to get pleasure from Time to Dream. But it is hard to have fun when you are listening to someone who sounds like he is wearing a hairshirt.

Originally Published