Michael Samson

A Still Motion

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By calling his second album A Still Motion, solo pianist Michael Samson gets at a fundamental element of his playing style. The "still" part comes in the repetitive patterns he favors, while the "motion" refers to his tendency to vary his tempos. This is apparent immediately in the leadoff track, also called "A Still Motion," which begins slowly, suggesting that this will be just another new age piano album, but then picks up speed as Samson plays more intensely, until the track begins to resemble a composition by Philip Glass. Part of the way Samson builds his tunes is by employing an unusually busy left hand that doesn't just provide rhythmic underpinning to the melodic figures in the right hand, but, as often as not, provides a counter-melody, often fairly far up the scale. Samson also likes to use his left hand to plumb the depths at the lower end of the keyboard, but often he is in the middle, essentially playing two melodies, sometimes in different time signatures. That can make for some dense music, but Samson keeps things comprehensible through repetition; he gives his listeners plenty of opportunities to become familiar with the patterns. The result is a style that is somewhat more forceful than that of George Winston, while less ethereal than David Lanz (though having some of Lanz's majestic sweep).

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