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Blues, Preludes And Feuds : A Musical Memory






  1. Overt ? Sure!!!

  2. Recitative

  3. Blues For The End Of Time

  4. Or Not Blues

    Part 1

  1. Prelude # 0

  2. Feud # 0 (The Counter-Theme)

  3. Postlude # 0

  4. Two-Part Invention

  5. Signify

    Part 2

  1. Ostinato Asymmetrique

  2. The Veiled Theme

  3. Lullaby

  4. The Other Theme

  5. Ostinato Improvisique

  6. Contention in E

  7. Fanatical in A

  8. Temporary Cessation Of Hostilities

    Part 3

  1. Amazing Grace

  2. Bach Prelude # 1 Remix

  3. Bach Prelude # 2 Remix

  4. Bach Fugue # 2 - ish

  5. Fantasy on Bach Fugue # 2

    Part 4

  1. Star Spangled Minor

  2. Prevaricate

  3. Similitude

  4. Prelude and Feud # 1

  5. Eggman's Lament

  6. Blues en Franšais

    Peter Saltzmann - Piano

    Unusually, Blues, Preludes And Feuds is a CD that comes with a caution from the artiste. Peter Saltzmann has been a stalwart of the Chicago jazz scene for approaching thirty years. An adjunct professor of music at Columbia College, Chicago, he is a composer, pianist and singer-songwriter. Things Better Left Said, released in 2003, was a vocal album comprising standards and originals. He has also released Uncollected Pop, Volumes 1 and 2 covering the periods 1988 to 1991, and 2001 to 2005 respectively, plus six volumes of Piano Diaries. His ambition is to fuse jazz, pop and classical music. He speaks of creating 'a highly personal, but accessible approach to playing the piano in a post-jazz style'. This disc marks a return after a temporary absence. The caution I mentioned earlier is contained in the liner notes. Blues, Preludes And Feuds, Saltzmann informs us, was both conceived and developed as an app. The app is not simply music but also story and images and is seen as a dynamic project, continuing to evolve over time. So while the CD can be experienced separately, it is intended to be part of a larger autobiographical whole, of a hybrid album-ebook, in fact.

    I guess that's where I have a problem as a reviewer. It seems to me that what is on offer on the CD resembles film music, in that it is difficult to assess how well it does its job when divorced from context. Here we have the soundtrack to a life, expressed in disparate sounding short pieces. Let me be clear. Saltzmann has a formidable technique as a pianist. I picked out half a dozen tracks with explicit jazz content. Or Not Blues, the longest piece at almost four and a half minutes, possesses an underlying blues sensibility, with a dash of Monk thrown in. I liked the Baroque Two-Part Invention, too, along with the pleasing Lullaby. The Bach Preludes and Fugues came across well, especially Bach Prelude # 2 Remix which is given a stimulating treatment. Saltzmann can play Bach with his left hand while his right goes walkabout. He never fails to play with energy, where that is required. Imagination is prominent, also, on an interesting excursion around Star Spangled Minor and the well handled Prelude and Feud. I thought Signify was promising as a theme but wanted more than the brief snatch available here.

    Much of the rest may have appeal to lovers of contemporary classical music or indeed, of the avant-garde. Peter Salzmann isn't short of admirers in Chicago, the city where he grew up. This latest production went straight into the local charts at number two. I understand there is a forthcoming video later this year and also an album/app entitled One Human Minute where each track is a minute or less in length. For me, these are signs of a restless musical intelligence. To appreciate fully what he has attempted on Blues, Preludes and Feuds, those intrigued by what they've read here should try Peter Saltzman's website for more information (peter

    James Poore

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