Joe LoCascio

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Heart Music gave Joe LoCascio's followers a pleasant surprise with Home, which marked the first time he had played unaccompanied solo-piano for an entire CD. Having no accompaniment at all can really expose an artist's weaknesses -- there's no drummer, guitarist or bassist to provide any type of safety net. But thankfully, LoCascio proves that he doesn't need one, and he rises to the occasion nicely on introspective, lyrical versions of material ranging from "Stairway to the Stars" and "All the Things You Are" to the traditional gospel anthem "Amazing Grace." LoCascio is in fine form on no less than three songs written or co-written by Billy Strayhorn ("Rain Check," "Star Crossed Lovers" and the haunting "Passion Flower"), and his appealing interpretation of Thelonious Monk's "Little Rootie Tootie" makes one wish the quirky tune were better known. LoCascio never sounded better than he does on Home, which was arguably the strongest album he'd done in the 1990s.

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