After a career as a music executive, Jim Hudak moved to San Francisco and began working as a full-time pianist, performing in clubs, hotels, and elsewhere. He also began recording albums that he released on his own Brainstorm Records label, discs devoted to well-known pop songs, but with a handful of originals mixed in. On his fifth album, Bridging Textures, he has finally turned to all originals, and he has even gotten new age stalwart Will Ackerman to produce the disc, so this seems intended to be something more than just another CD to sell at gigs. The compositions go back quite a few years, dating all the way back to the closing piece, "Song of Achievement," which he wrote when he was 12 years old. In addition to his acoustic piano (and, on two tracks, acoustic guitar), he has brought in occasional bass, percussion, saxophone, violin, and accordion, though there are never more than four musicians playing on a track, and usually only two or three. Although these are originals, a career of working with songwriters at the licensing agencies ASCAP and SESAC has given Hudak a mainstream pop sensibility that comes out in light, attractive melodies and simple, seamless playing. In fact, much of the time it's possible to suppose that the music is an interlude in some song by a '70s singer/songwriter like Joni Mitchell or Carole King, who is just about to come back in with the next verse. Instead, the pieces flow on calmly until they conclude or fade. It's easy to imagine that Hudak has been slipping these tunes in here and there among the familiar tunes he plays at his engagements without anyone being the wiser, since they sound enough like something familiar themselves not to disturb the diners who happen to hear them.
Bridging Textures Review
by William Ruhlmann