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David Bryan: Lunar Eclipse

Given the fact that keyboardist David Bryan crafted some of the most hummable pop anthems of the ’80s with super-group Bon Jovi, it should come as no surprise that the man has a great ear for hooks: pure, populist melodies that stick with you long after the music stops. These melodic figures, some of which populate a pair of musical theater pieces in development, are displayed through the graceful (and mostly solo) piano work of Lunar Eclipse (Moon Junction Music 116 718 050-2; 56:10), a pleasantly surprising solo effort. As a composer, Bryan touches on genial, uplifting pop on pieces like the stiff-fingered anthem, “It’s a Long Road” and Elton Johnesque “On a Full Moon,” but is equally comfortable with gospel and blues touches, as on “I Can Love.” He shows equal range as a player, ripping through stuttering finger-rolls on the fun boogie, “Room Full of Blues,” and dancing lightly over gentle music box tones on “Kissed by an Angel,” and “Lullaby for Two Moons.” Though there are overwrought moments, such as the hokey midi-ambient effects of “Up the River,” the majority of Bryan’s material feels straightforward and honest. This quality comes across particularly well on the small ensemble piece, “Netherworld Waltz,” which boasts a homespun warmth anchored by Nancy Buchan’s violin and Edgar Winter’s sweet, bluesy sax.

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