John Law

Abacus

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John Law is a talented pianist immersed in a European artistic aesthetic whose finely tuned improvised solos conjure images of elegance and dignity. Law is at his best when he composes pieces that let others spread their wings, as on the opening "Ouverture," a tune that exemplifies the pianist's impressive penchant for difficult syncopated, off-beat rhythms. Elsewhere, Law mixes complex and very simple constructs. For example, in contradistinction to the sinewy "Ouverture," several tracks, such as the monastic-imbued "Courante," the introspective "Aria," and the delicate "Sarabande," reveal the tralatitious influences of ancient melodies and structures. At heart, Law is a reserved soloist whose formal training wields a subtle potency. He tends to play on the beat, and even when he swings, he is somewhat stiff, though often attractively so. On "Sarabande," his solo unfolds gently, like a flower observed over time. Gerry Hemingway adds immeasurably throughout, with sophisticated propulsion. On the opener, for example, his focus on the snare charges the twisted Ornette-like head, and on "Burlesque," the drummer sings inventively through his kit. Jon Lloyd's acid tone infuses the recording with an emotional depth and lilting swagger, while Tim Wells' bass layers the bottom. There is a sense, though, of transition to the whole, as if this is the precursor for something to come.

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