Sunday, September 23, 2012

Review: T.J. Martley- Meditations Vol. 1

Meditations Vol. 1, one of the best albums released by a locally-based jazz musician in 2012, doesn't swing.  Furthermore, it bears little relationship to the Kansas City piano tradition of Pete Johnson, Count Basie and Jay McShann.  Instead, the solo piano project by T.J. Martley evokes the music of Keith Jarrett, Erik Satie, Thelonious Monk and Johann Sebastian Bach.

It's not surprising that Martley's album is challenging.  He's the pianist of choice for many of Kansas City's most musically demanding bandleaders.  He played in ensembles led by Rich Wheeler and Mike Metheny at the Prairie Village Jazz Festival earlier this month.  He's also a member of the fine Lennie Tristano tribute band Crosscurrent.  Martley's popular YouTube channel specializes in insightful piano instruction. 

Although it's a technical tour de force, Meditations Vol. 1 isn't dry.  The decisions made on the ten "short free improvisation piece(s)" expose Martley's thought process and state of mind.   Meditations Vol. 1 may initially seem dense and difficult, but careful listening reveals the album's substantial inner beauty. 

Here's the album's EPK.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

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