Wayland Pickard

Pianovations

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Having gone down the road taken by the likes of Victor Borge and, to a lesser extent, Liberace and Alec Templeton, Wayland Pickard has had a successful career as a comic pianist. This album, his second, features Pickard's penchant for adopting well-known classical pieces to jazz rhythms. J. S. Bach's "Chorale From Cantata No. 147" is cleverly rechristened "Bach Beat" and "Boogie Mania" combines "Bumble-Bee Boogie-Woogie," derived from the Rimsky-Korsakoff "Flight of the Bumble Bee" with Aram Khachaturian's "Sabre Dance." These usually lead off with a serious rendition of the piece before seguing into the jazzed-up version. The album is not all fun and games. There are some Pickard originals as well as tunes by Dave Brubeck and Vince Guaraldi. One of the premiere tracks is the combination of "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and "Love Is Here to Stay." The former gets the full piano treatment while the latter is sung by Pickard in a rather pleasant, unassuming voice. Cuts like "Elvira Madigan Theme" are given serious treatment. The full orchestral background on most tracks is provided by that contrived electronic gizmo, the synthesizer, imaginatively played by David Dial. So while the sound implies a cast of hundreds, there are just two performers creating all that music. This is an album of music by an artist who combines mastery of his instrument, albeit sometimes a tad flashy a la Liberace, with an innate ability to have some fun with serious music in such a way as to entertain without offending. Recommended.

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