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John Medeski: A Different Time

For his debut solo piano recording-also the first release on the newly revived OKeh label, now a Sony imprint-John Medeski does something of a 180. Performed on a 1924 French Gaveau piano in an old church in upstate New York, late at night so as to minimize ambient noise from the outside world, the nine ruminative improvisations and compositions bear virtually no resemblance to the familiar organ-based groove-funk of Medeski Martin and Wood.

It’s not entirely unfamiliar territory for Medeski, though; he’s performed solo piano concerts, and played Gregory Rogove’s compositions on the multi-instrumentalist’s collection of solo piano works, Piana. The surprise is in the utter placidity of the music, the absence not only of loud but also of edge. Medeski willingly sets aside his innate experimental tendencies on this outing, taming his frolicsome nature to instead expose the sheer grace and sparkle the instrument afforded him.

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