Pianist Frederick Moyer considers himself primarily a classical artist; however he also loves jazz and really enjoys his moments of improvisation at his keyboard. He has just released a solo piano CD of some of his favorite standards called “When Summer Comes.” on the “JRI Recordings” label.
“When Summer Comes” is the title of an Oscar Peterson “chestnut,” and it actually appears two times on Moyer’s new CD. Ordinarily we might think that this is because one is perhaps an “alternate take.” Maybe, perhaps it’s because Frederick loved both versions of the tune, and he just couldn’t decide which one to put on his album, and which one to leave out. So, he included both of them, right? No--- it is because “When Summer Comes” is actually the title of two entirely separate, different tunes-- both written by Peterson! You see, Mr. Peterson gave the same title to two different compositions of his! That is like having two totally different paintings by the same artist, and naming them both “The Mona Lisa!!!” Anyway, both of Peterson’s compositions are marvelous in their own way, and both are included here.
Often when a pianist releases an album of standards we think that it’s going to be just another box of stale biscuits all over again! Mr. Moyer made sure that that would not be the case. Yes, many of these are well-loved selections from what we have been calling over the last couple of decades: “The Great American Songbook.” I might mention that you could NEVER go wrong with that, for those songs are the most influentially important songs by our song writers. Frederick Moyer, though wanted this album to be just a little bit more than an album of standards; so he has also included some lesser known songs as well-like the Bill Evans’ magnum opus “Very Early.” This tune was composed by Evans when he was just a Junior in high school. Written as a waltz, Moyer keeps it exquisitely slow here, and to his credit, was totally reverential to Evans and to Evan’s masterpiece, with his soft, thoughtful approach.
It was an unexpected joy seeing Benny Carter’s “Only Trust Your Heart” on this new CD! It’s hard to believe that this song is almost 50 years old! Moyer’s performance here is instantly appealing. The Grammy and Academy Award winning “The Shadow Of Your Smile” is played with an implied Latin feel that works well, and “All Of Me” swings delicately, in spite of the fact that Moyer has no real “swing support” in the way of a drummer or bassist here!
One of my favorite songs on the CD is “My One And Only Love.” It was written back in the early 50’s, but I guess we all keep going back to the Coltrane/Johnny Hartman version from a decade later-- in 1963. Moyer moved this masterwork along nicely, and did not put too much musical “gravy” on it--- again to his great credit. The song speaks for itself, and Frederick played it that way. Well, what do you do with Erroll Garner’s “Misty?” You do exactly what Moyer did—you play it! He didn’t try to create some hypnotic intensity or fake drama. I really liked his passingchords on it too.
The song “It Might As Well Be Spring” has a “personal” connection to the pianist. Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote it for the 1945 movie “State Fair.” Moyer’s grandfather, Paul Green wrote the original screenplay for that film. There is one original here called simply “Gospel.” I hope that Frederick writes more songs like this in the future, because this one is really catchy and well constructed. There is a lot of restrained passion pouring out of this particular original song.
The cover of this CD reads: “When Summer Comes” followed by a little subtitle which humbly says: “… and other quiet jazz.” I would say that this is totally “truth in advertising” by pianist Frederick Moyer. This is an honest effort by an artist with great ardour and true regard for our standards… and for his craft.
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