Tom Alexander

What's Ahead?

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Tom Alexander is a screen and TV writer and producer of some renown having, among many other achievements, directed the nationally syndicated radio show The Drive. He has composed scores for motion pictures and led or co-led jazz fusion groups. With this debut album, he turns his attention to playing his own compositions. The one common thread that runs throughout the album is that Alexander knows how to write out and out pretty music. Pieces like the poetically named "Flickering Images on a Summer Night" and "Pathways" have a fanciful flow about them too often missing in contemporary piano jazz compositions. The album includes a pseudo-classical piece in six movements, "City Suite for Multiple Pianos," which has forms reminiscent of Erik Satie and Maurice Ravel. Included on the musical agenda is a tribute to Alexander's mentor, Chick Corea, with "Chicklets" and a set of three short improvisations.

Alexander's pianistic skills are formidable without being flamboyant or pretentious. There doesn't seem to be anything on the piano he can't pull off with ease and aplomb. But he creates the same dilemma that other relatively unknown jazz artists face who limit their recording career's opening salvo to only their compositions; without any standards or other familiar material, it's difficult to judge interpretative qualities. The listener obviously has to assume that the pianist is interpreting his/her own material definitively. But there's a void created in the assessment of the total artist when nothing on the play list is known to anyone but the performer. Hopefully the next time out Alexander will extend his considerable pianistic creativity to some standard material. In the meantime, this album is filled with pleasurable listening and is recommended.

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