Saturday, April 6, 2013

Billy Taylor StoryTime JKA 2013

Billy Lester photo BillyLester_coverA_zps5c3ffbb7.jpgWhile you occasionally get the Keith Jarrett or Chick Corea solo release dropped and I believe the labels adhere to this practise so they can which our collective jaws hit the floor and for the artist to pick up a fat pay check. Granted this is conjecture but there is some merit behind this argument.

Billy Lester lends himself to solo piano work. Solo work for any musician is a sonic trip wire as the session and or concert can go incredibly well or is simply a sonic disaster counting down like the clock on the old television show "24."

Story time attempts to draw a melodic parallel between the bed time stories he heard as a child and some of books read aloud or improvised oral narratives which today is classified as spoken word dialog which in my somewhat humble opinion has no place in the world of jazz but this is a topic for another day. Story time contains a unique ebb and flow. Point as well as the contrapuntal nature of these same storytelling that I find incredibly trite however with age comes wisdom. There is the difference between the pretentiousness of a self indulgent spoken word mantra and that of an open ended dialog. Lester leans towards the more open ended dialog. There is a history behind this which begs for acknowledgement, Lester's father was greatly influenced by Lester Young, who referred to his music as "the stories I like to tell."

One particular piece is "Ode to Bud Powell" an improvisational piece that recalls Bud's contradictory approach of rugged attack with the pursuit of melodic perfection. In reading the press release for this work, James Lester states that "Great music is not required to be subjective." Being told a story is still highly subjective even as a child. It scares you, makes you laugh, or perhaps touches other emotional seeds having been planted early on. Subjectivity is an everyday occurrence be it music or the evening meal. Tastes, opposing points of view, even interpersonal interaction with the variety of people we seek out.

Good album? Yes. But average. Story time is like riding your bike over train tracks, you will get to your destination but you will feel every bump. A keen improvisational sense and a rare commodity of keeping one on the edge of their seat is always fun despite having worked with an editor that said "Taste is subjective, never tell the listener what they will be hearing next." I believe music and especially the more critical side to be that of a shared experience which is possible without the subjectivity my former editor holds dear to his heart. For me...3.5 stars. Better than average but not my cup of tea.

Billy Lester - Solo Piano
Tracks: Prologue; Lullaby; Lightening Man; Under The Stars; Ode To Bud Powell; Dark Streets; Bonanza; Another Dream; Color Red; Sal Mosca; Encore.

Thanks to Jim at Jazz Promo Services