#newreview #contemporarypiano #hollyjones #peacefulpiano
New review for Holly Jones and her brand new piano release ‘for you’
Review by International Music Writer Kerry Barnes UK.
INTRODUCTION: January 6th 2023 Brand New Solo Piano Release by US Composer-Pianist Holly Jones. Stats already at 83K on Spotify, after only a couple of days! #staytunedin Pandora 4M listener base of Solo Piano Radio. ‘piano music to bring you to your present peace’ Mixed and Mastered by Markus Nordlund of Dromedar Studios and with thanks to the Team at Soothe Sounds GYROstream
I have written many reviews for all sorts of musicians and composers, but I have to say “this is artistry of the highest order” combined with emotional attachment in dedication to her beloved husband Fred, her absolute soul mate and a man who turns ‘vanilla into technicolour!’ ‘for you’ is for Fred, a very lucky man indeed!! ……..and I almost see a ‘pendant of love’ in the picture above, worn with a strong sense of fragility perhaps?
Don’t worry……..we’re coming to the juicy bits soon!
This track ‘for you’ has got itself on to the most coveted Spotify playlist Peaceful Piano, a playlist that all piano artists want to adorn, (including me, who tried and failed many times!) that shows the calibre of this amazing musician called Holly Jones!!
I have witnessed Holly playing on film and apart from Burt Bacharach I have never seen a physical body so intertwined with it’s instrument in performance and symbiosis, almost acting as a vessel for this sound on higher ground. There is compassion for every note depressed, and a warmth to defrost our winter wrinkles and furrowed brows. Holly waits for every note to be born, assuring us of golden saturation, while an Aurora seeps through the piano lid. This music could cure diseases.
Now for the juicy bits!! #stunningpianoplaying #borntodothis #feltpiano #neoclassicism #onallplatforms
‘for you’ started as a piano doodling session and certainly one of the most beautiful doodles I’ve ever heard!! B flat major is Holly’s choice of signature, and I seem to notice that she favours the black note tonal centres and feels very comfortable up on their ledges almost like a shared temperament between herself and the piano, and on a stage of their own. I also note that Holly’s athletic body is quick to respond to her musical desires and this is another feather in her creative cap, and while I think of it, she would make a wonderful candidate for the ‘Alexander Technique’…….indeed I could see her teaching it!! This track is ‘felt piano’ to die for, and before thinking about words, I played it over and over and over again, purely for my own pleasure.
At the beginning of the piece it’s no frills, just straight in, and with a quality of sound to be found only in our dreams. A repeated motif of three notes descending, a simple melody made even more sublime by the evenness of tone supplied elsewhere. I imagine Holly melting into Fred’s warm arms in a soaking embrace. The shape raises higher, floating on upper thermals, like a bird who never flaps it’s wings. Just soaring and cruising. Holly’s delicate right foot catches two notes together in one pedal action, and would normally sound like a cacophony as they are ‘consecutive 2nds’, but here in the hands of Holly the sound is like a shimmering veil of harmonics, like those of classical guitar on it’s highest fret range. The beauty is enhanced by clever use of ‘fermata and rubato’ and just the right arm weight in pianistic technique. Mmmmmm, what’s this I hear?……a sprinkling of Ludovico Einaudi?? ……..just for a moment, lovely.
Now, the harmonic buddies arrive in the form of open-intervals, and sounding very natural, then the lowest bass notes lead us down gently and I hear a little hint of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata in C sharp minor. I have the urge to listen to this restful and soothing piece again, but no, I must keep writing!! Holly keeps great control here and there are no bulges in tone anywhere. Suddenly the tune is reinforced within an octave in the right hand, just to tease us, then disappears, good choice, as it could sound too thin. To stop that, Holly backs up the melodic line with 6ths, 5ths, 4ths and 3rds, creating a perfect blend.
Even though this track is full of bendable phrasing, there is an underlying control of tempo and measure, and Holly holds our attention beautifully! Her instincts count for her, that must feel thrilling whilst she plays, complete reliance, organically produced. Am loving the smooth yet abrasive snagging of this felt piano and the real pedal machination sounds which accompany it, Holly is actually in my front room, playing for me. Syncopation plays an important role here and Holly chooses spongy accents on the 4th and 8th quavers (if you imagine a row of 8 quavers) and are very characteristic in contemporary piano composition of this nature.
I sense a Coda in Holly’s use of Rallentando Allargando as she slowly pulls us towards it. A musical miracle awaits us……….a gentle hiatus looms, I can’t stand the suspense anymore……..then a moment of pure beauty…….a closing chord of supreme quality, expert ‘Voicing’ (every note contains the same pressure across it’s shape). Pianissimo and Delicatissimo are applied with pure grace, and I never want to hear another piano note again, for this is all I need. Bravo Holly!!
Below is a video that excellently shows Holly’s love of black key playing and of course communicating to her listeners of whom I am one. It’s called “Light on the Water”.