CHRISTOPHER BOSCOLE, Dawn of Love
Though he has been a renowned solo new age pianist for over ten years and his last five albums in this vein have all charted Top 10 on ZMR, a deeper look at his full discography – dating back to 1986 - reveals a more expansive artistry that includes contemporary pop-jazz and straight- ahead jazz. The year before he released his traditional jazz album Natural Instincts: Jazz, he recorded O Christmas Tree: Solo Piano. This was an unexpected outlier at the time, but fit in perfectly when he re-launched his recording career in 2008 after a 15 year break from releasing full length works. In 2009, when he was riding a fresh wave of success with his first original solo piano album Presents of Angels, it made perfect contextual sense to re-issue that delightful holiday recording to his new audience.
Long gaps in an artist’s discography and a complete shift in gears from one genre to another are always fascinating to contemplate. Listening to Boscole’s exquisite, rhythmically and inspirationally diverse new15-track epic work Dawn of Love, I kept wondering what was going on creatively and musically during those many years away from studio recordings. Considering his expansive array of influences, I assume part of the challenge was discovering what his inner voice was telling him.
That couldn’t have been easy for an artist who owes as much to Keith Jarrett, Bill Evans, Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock as he does to George Winston, David Lanz, Michael Jones, Dave Grusin, John McLaughlin and a wealth of classical composers, including Chopin, Debussy, Satie, Ravel and Bach. While most of Boscole’s solo piano output has been original material, he explored his classical passions on the aptly titled A New Age of Classical Piano (2014).
While showcasing his distinctive shadings of darkness and light and the intimately beautiful shadows in between, Dawn of Love feels like a whimsical outpouring of musical energy spotlighting Boscole’s love for a multitude of styles beyond jazz – from classical and sacred to pop/soul, showtunes and beyond.
His two new wonderful originals, the vibrantly emotionally, high energy opener “Dawn of Love” (which serves as a gust of wind sweeping us into the experience) and the tender romantic reflection “Simply You,” are worth noting up front because they fit in so seamlessly amidst lovingly re-imagined works by the likes of Beethoven (“Ode to Joy”, Shubert (the most familiar version of “Ave Maria”), Saint-Saens (“The Swan”), Liszt (“Consolation No.3 in D-Flat Major, S. 172”), Thom Bell & Linda Creed (the R&B classic “You Are Everything”) and the two Italian composers who wrote the song that became the international Italian/English sensation “Time to Say Goodbye,” originally sung by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. For tunes associated with films, Boscole's choices are equally unique – the very well known “A Time For Us” (from “Romeo and Juliet) and the more obscure “Walking in the Air” from the 1982 animated film The Snowman.
Another interesting concept the pianist had in creating this unique potpourri-styled recording was to revisit two of his previously recorded holiday favorites. While sticking with the same basic arrangements of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” and “Angels We Have Heard On High,” his new recordings vary the tempos somewhat. Hands down, the freshest, most unexpected moment comes when he shifts from a reverent flow through “Amazing Grace” into the lyrical late 19th century singalong “Daisy Bell” in a cleverly worked piece he calls “Amazing Daisy.” Mashups like these are rare in new age, but perhaps his success with this one will inspire others to try them.
With previous recordings, Boscole has explored creative relationships between music, nature and photography (including time-lapse), and it’s exciting to anticipate which songs on Dawn of Love he will be adapting to create new multi-media experiences.