John Wolf Brennan


Creative Works Records 1037

John Wolf Brennan, piano.

As the liner notes explain, Flügel is the proper German word to describe a grand piano. This CD is part two of the second of three trilogies. In the strictest sense, this is not Jazz. But as the scope of what is Jazz widens, Brennan's work fits on the fringe. A song like "Anyway...was there ever nothing?" (dedicated to Annette Peacock and Marilyn Crispell) echoes the recent piano outings of Crispell on ECM. The voicing of the notes is stark and open, given space to breathe. The piano duo, "You Can't Be Sirius!" is thick, densely filled, recalling Irene Schweizer. The short "String Theory" features plucked strings.

Much of the work here are variations, or puns, on the work of other composers. "Monk In A Cage" is a hybrid of it's two namesakes. "Pump & Circumstance" uses the rhythmic sound of a pump as a background. The juxtaposition between the steady pump and the piano is intriguing, as they are not in time with each other. "The effect is almost that of playing the song while a train passes by. The "Meditations On Two Medieval Songs" is hauntingly beautiful, as is "Kyoto." The recording is spacious and clear, giving an open sense of the room. This is not background music, but music to savor and immerse yourself in. Brennan is a gifted composer and pianist who deserves a wiser audience. Highly recommended for those who like piano that is reminiscent of ECM's New series releases.

By Michael Bettine

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