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Burton Greene: Shades of Greene

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Burton Greene made his first impact on the jazz scene as a free player recording for ESP. He’s been an expatriate for years, based in the Netherlands, and while there has gotten into klezmer music with his band Klezmokum. Here the pianist performs unaccompanied and brings a lifetime of influences into play. Some of the music sounds like updated ragtime mixed with a Satie-like quality. There are a couple of pieces here by Thelonious Monk and one by Bill Evans, a reworked version of “Time Remembered.” “Arcturus,” on which Greene employs polytonality or bimodality, seems marked by the work of early twentieth century Western classical innovators. “Moldavian Blues” and “Bubba meisa Drama” have a klezmer influence.

A lot of Greene’s improvising on this CD is based on pre-set structures, al-though he does some free playing as well. He vamps frequently to establish grooves and uses his left hand in a variety of ways, playing contrapuntally and in octave unison style. He also uses all of the keyboard, doing a lot of tinkling in the upper register and employing register contrasts and dissonance often, sometimes to create humorous effects.

Greene frequently plays stimulatingly. There are times when his improvising and writing get coy, and his articulation’s sometimes a bit clumsy, but he’s got his own take on things, he’s making a contribution to the musical vocabu-lary of his times.