Bradley Young: Midnight Rhapsody
Pianist Bradley Young studied jazz piano with Jackie Byard, recorded with Chet Baker, played with many in the '80's jazz scene in Chicago and went on to become a commercial bandleader in demand by the black tie set in both Chicago and Los Angles. On this recording Young shows us that his piano chops are not only intact but have grown and he is also a fine composer.
Despite his love for the jazz icons of the last sixty years Young has chosen the commercial side of jazz to frame his piano. Apart from solo piano, everything is based on rock and Latin rhythms fused with modern jazz harmony. However, what sets this apart from the overworked smooth jazz formula, is the deep content of both the compositions and performances, highlighted by the use of real instruments. The strings are gorgeous because they are real strings, Rick Vitek has thankfully replaced the drum machine and the grand piano is recorded exceptionally well. The production values here could be used as a model for all to behold. Producer Michael Logan must be commended for his impact on the recording, mixing and mastering.
The musical program is based on new compositions: six of the eight compositions are originals, three by Young and another three by Young's collaboration with bassist Geoffrey Lowe. The title track, Midnight Rhapsody, is a moody minor key melody reminiscent of Joe Sample's work, complete with string counterpoint, use of chromatic harmony and high-end lyrical right hand piano that never loses sight of the blues. Laguna Breeze gives us Bob Frankich's soprano sax with a lazy melody set against a Latin/bossa rhythm from Vitek and percussionist Rick Purro. Beau Peaux Shuffle features an angular line with an edge, created by Steve Cole's sax and Pat Fleming's overdriven guitar, juxtaposed against a string pad and spiced with Young's acoustic piano fills—a very pleasant fusion!
Bradley Young and his crew have created a great CD, a fine work of art. Jazz purists may be somewhat critical, but they are the enemy of creativity. There is far too much originality, solid playing and beautiful moodiness here than will ever be heard in the elevator.-MV
Available via Omnibus Records, contact (773) 583-2100 or on-line at www.bradleyyoung.com.