George Flynn

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Trinity Review

by Michael G. Nastos

This solo piano suite, a double-CD set from Flynn, comprises two previously issued but remastered portions originally available on the Finnadar label, plus a newly recorded finale. It's 20th century contemporary music -- not jazz -- but it has a substantial amount of improvisation flowing throughout. Much of the music is annotated, but as thematic reference points for Flynn to wax poetically and emotionally in a wide range. The effort is an exhilarating pianistic expression of the human spirit frustrated by oppression and senseless death. "Kanal" (w. 1976, rec. 1987) means "sewer" in Polish. This 37-minute piece in 13 segments evokes images of desperation and, at times, quietude. Various improvised apportionments recall the frantic, rambling organization of Cecil Taylor or the maddening, arpeggiated quickness of the player piano music composed by Conlon Nancarrow. This is chord-based music, brimming with drama and clusters of emotional frustration, yet beautifully conceived and played by Flynn. It is relatively seamless, and not without its share of gloomy motifs, ending with many black, quite bitter notes. "Wound" (w. 1968, rec. 1974) at just over 22 minutes, is a musical reaction to the Vietnam War. You hear statements, then silence throughout, and gentle musings that almost always lead to fits of rage. The sixth of the nine movements has repeated, hard-edged, chiming chords that are almost clarion in effect, and an atypical sound for Flynn that drives homes his angst-riddled point. It's yin and yang with the hysterical yang winning out. "Salvage" (w. 1993, rec. 1999) starts fairly serenely and retains this constraint as abject resolution through much of the near 34 minutes. The fourth of the 14 segments sports roiling, tumbling-over-backwards melodicism -- again atypical of other parts, and the seventh section rumbles with more ruminating chords. The rest is Flynn at his most patient and reflective, as if he has come to grips with these human rights violations, conquered his stark fear and terror, and somehow found tough solutions to acquire a lasting peace that pervades the back half of this challenging, yet quite lovely piece of music. Flynn has given us a powerful trilogy which took years to conceive and finally complete. The world certainly has changed since 1968 when the seeds were planted for this magnum opus, which, when heard in one sitting or perhaps in performance, commands attention like few solo piano efforts have in any style of music. Highly recommended.

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