John Salmon

John Salmon Plays Dave Brubeck Piano Compositions

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Although Dave Brubeck is best known as a jazz pianist and composer, most of the works on this delightful release by classical pianist John Salmon (a music professor at University of North Carolina-Greensboro) will not be recognized by Brubeck's jazz audience. The four movements from "Glances" were originally conceived as a ballet. "Overture" reflects the country-like flavor of Aaron Copland's work, though Brubeck's piece is far more adventurous. "Struttin'" is a polytonal piece (also recorded by Brubeck as "Polly" in a jazz setting); its loping rhythm is rather deceptive as it slowly gets wilder. Salmon's performances of the four miniatures from Dave's Diary are delightful, while his technique shines in the eight movements from Brubeck's ballet "Points on Jazz," each of which is a distinctly different rhythmic treatment of the theme from the composer's "Thank You (Dziekuje)." Likewise, the six miniatures from Brubeck's "Reminiscences of Cattle Country" showcase both his serious and playful side; these pieces were also written while he was a young graduate student under Darius Milhaud just after World War II. The one extended work, "They All Sang Yankee Doodle," was inspired by Charles Ives, according to Brubeck in his illuminating liner notes. Much like Ives' hilarious and imaginative "Themes and Variations on 'America,'" Brubeck's work recasts "Yankee Doodle" in many different settings, some of which are rather subtle. Salmon's consistently rewarding interpretations of these infrequently performed Brubeck pieces receive great praise from the composer himself, with good reason. Very highly recommended.

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