George Small

View from Fifth

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The story goes that George Small titled his debut album View from Fifth because he composed the tunes sitting at his grand piano while looking out as the weird counterculture life forms of Greenwich Village strode by. From that, we might expect the longtime film composer and session keyboardist -- who toured with Graham Parker and played on John Lennon's classic Double Fantasy -- to create something cynical or avant-garde, but he sticks with blooming optimism throughout the eclectic jazz lite fare. Purists like to complain that some of today's funky contemporary jazz is too machine generated, but Small uses his synth rack for a dynamic effect on the swinging and soaring "Trackin' It Down," as well as on the more classically influenced "Dancetta," which features the flute melody of Kent Eanes among a sea of synthesized strings. While Small keeps most of the cuts pop-hook conscious, he finds space to pepper a few of his tunes with some bona fide acoustic jazz piano soloing on "Sam's Umbrella," and shows a moodier side on "Dreambeams," a soft spoken, piano solo ode to the Village at nightfall.

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