Since 1978, creative jazz pianist Jack Reilly has used the ancient practice of consulting Tarot cards to help guide his personal activities. He has now combined the symbols of the Tarot with piano improvisations based upon impressions received by looking at each of the cards, something that began as a parlor game but which evolved into a more serious undertaking, as reflected in two volumes of musical Tarot physic impressions. Reilly selected the Thoth Tarot Deck because of its unique pictorial expositions. Thoth is the ancient Egyptian god of wisdom and healing. Tarot cards are said to have come from the book of Thoth (to see some of these picturesque cards, go to http//www.fourthdimension.net). One picks up familiar refrains in some improvisations. The opening measures of track two bring to the mind phrases from Modest Mussorgski's "Pictures at an Exhibition." The sub-objective of Reilly's CD is to demonstrate fully that free-form, avant-garde -- whatever one would like to call it -- need not be based on musical anarchy. There can be a free-flowing stream of ideas formulated on the spot without resorting to strange, strained, and bizarre sounds from the instrument being employed. While Reilly extemporizes, he never loses control of where he wants to go, how to get there, and what to do when he arrives. The one downer on the album is that the tracks are not at all related to any specific card in the Tarot deck. There are 22 cards, but just ten tracks of music. So it is difficult to relate Reilly's pianistic impressions to any one Tarot picture and its meaning. Nonetheless, the album captures the totality of the meaning and force of this psychic device, and in doing so, provides highly original pianism. Recommended.
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