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Ron Thomas | 17 Solo Piano Improvisations

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Claude Debussy Franz Liszt Keith Jarrett

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Ron Thomas official website VectorDisc Records official website Richard Burton official website

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Jazz: Free Jazz Classical: Contemporary Moods: Featuring Piano
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17 Solo Piano Improvisations

by Ron Thomas

A suite of loosely related, variously styled improvised pieces orbiting around certain features of the music of Franz Liszt.
Genre: Jazz: Free Jazz
Release Date: 

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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
"17 Solo Piano Improvisations"

17 Solo Piano Improvisations is a
suite of loosely related,variously styled
improvised pieces orbiting around certain
features of the music of Franz Liszt. They
document the idea of a direct pathway from
the Beethoven-influenced-Liszt on to Debussy,
Bartok,Schoenburg, Ligeti, Stockhausen, and
certain features of mid-20th century jazz. My
abiding affection for Liszt's personality
and work began with my early reading of his
fanastic life story which I was intoxicated
as I was with his music (especially those
remarkable (Ruth Slencszynaska's Decca
recordings from the 1950's, all of which
should be reissued)! His legendary life led
me to an idealized-heroic lifestyle of my
own wherein I too would dedicate myself to
the pursuit of the true, the noble, the new,
and the beautiful in music.

Ron Thomas
Recorded by John Vanore at Widener University,
Chester, PA in 1991
Mastered by Paul G. Kohler
Produced by Richard Burton
Vectordisc 004

REVIEW FROM ALL ABOUT JAZZ
By BUDD KOPMAN, Published: April 13, 2008
http://www.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=28956

Music is the language of sound, of vibrations; and hence, at a basic level, of physics. The history of Western music is an effort to understand and control how these vibrations interact and relate to each other, always with an ear towards how they affect the listener. Music's emotional affect on us is its greatest mystery.

Pianist Ron Thomas' 17 Solo Piano Improvisations is an exploration of certain features of the music of Franz Liszt, as they connect to the work of Debussy, Bartok, Schoenberg, Ligeti and Stockhausen. The connection to jazz comes from the fact that jazz has compressed 1,000 years of harmonic history into 100, and, for some players, has arrived at the same point.

These improvisations start where those of Wings of the Morning (Vectordisc, 2007) end, in that the overt romanticism of the earlier works has been abstracted and extended. However, the pieces share an extremely strong sense of control combined with the searching intelligence that was evident before. Definitions of consonance and dissonance; tension and release; preparation and arrival; and resolution and surprise are overturned and shattered, but then put back together. The concepts of tonality and melody are questioned and challenged, but then answered by each piece in its own way.

Be clear that these improvised pieces are not academic exercises, but rather highly charged, deeply emotional and spellbinding creations. They take one's breath away as they unfold, each with its own internal logic, carrying the listener to many unexpected places.

The pieces are not named, which is probably a good thing, since we are then allowed to make our own connections. It really does not matter if your knowledge of the classical music of this period is limited—although like most everything, pleasure will be increased when the new can be related to the known. With most of the tracks being under three minutes, they feel taut and dense with no rambling.

While each listener will get different things out of these wonderful pieces, what is incontrovertible is Thomas' improvisatory ability. This is something that has been lost in the classical world and it takes a musician comfortable in both the jazz and classical worlds to bring it back.

The figure of Lizst looms large in Thomas' development, both in his place in musical history and, more importantly, in artistic attitude. Thomas firmly believes that for a creative work (in this case, music) to rise to the level of art, the artist must find out what its intrinsic properties are and then work within the limitations thus defined to bring them out.

In his view, style has nothing to do with an artwork's merit and thus he reinforces, without saying so, the concept that jazz is an aesthetic attitude and not a style. These pieces stand outside of time, and are truly wondrous to hear—many times over.

Ron Thomas can be heard on the following
Vectordisc CDs as a leader (Scenes from a
Voyage to Arcturus, The House of Counted Days,
Wings of the Morning, Elysium, Two Lonely People
and Cycles).
Ron has two other CDs as a leader (Music
in Three Parts, Blues for Zarathustra and
Doloroso) on Art of Life Records). He also
appears on the 1972 Muse recordings "Live"
by Pat Martino and "One, Two, Free" by Eric
Kloss.


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