If you follow the new age or contemporary classical music scenes, you know there are a lot of solo piano CDs being released each year. And the nature of the beast is that it is difficult to tell the pianists apart. Some offer dramatic tempo changes, and others play forcefully, while yet other ones play very light and delicately. Of course some do all of the above. So give up trying to spot a particular piano player’s style so that you can name them when you hear them on the radio. Just let the music wash over you, and if you like it, if it moves you, then seek out the player and listen to some more. Fortunately many radio programmers announce who they are playing, and many online radio channels or satellite feeds put the name of the artist and song on your screen.
Which brings us to a new solo pianist named Adam Andrews who has his debut album, Road to Ambo, out. As per preceding paragraph, it would be hard to pick him out of a crowd of solo pianists, so really the criteria here should be: Is he any good? The answer is: Yes. He plays fairly forcefully and mostly with a fast or at least medium tempo (occasionally changing tempo within a tune), but he also works in one or two slower, softer pieces. Most of the melodies are strong and, well, melodic.
The first piece, “Road to Ambo,” inspired by his family’s journey to adopt a black African baby and bring him to the United States, has a nice joyous feeling to it. Several of the tunes (perhaps one too many) start with very high notes (“New Normal,” “Upside Down Church” and “We Are Brothers”) before he descends and starts working in the normal range, and strangely enough, when he does, several of these turn out to be his most lovely. One of the slow numbers is “Hope and Joy” which starts slow and simple, but has a wonderful dramatic quality to it, especially as it slows way down at around the three-minute and four-minute marks.
Adam Andrews gets a recommendation for his debut outing. He has created a solid recording that is definitely enjoyable to listen to. If not highly distinctive (almost impossible in this genre), the music is at least quite captivating and well thought-out. Probably the only way for him to create his own sound, would be to broaden out in the future and work in a few more instruments in hopes of making arrangements that sound more unique. Meanwhile, sample what this ivory-tickler has to offer by finding some streams or excerpts online.
Road to Ambo Adam Andrews 2014 / Adam Andrews 39 minutes "Road to Ambo" is the remarkable debut album by pianist/composer Adam Andrews. The eleven original pieces tell the very personal stories about Andrews’ family’s journey to adopting their son from Ambo, Ethiopia as well as some of the other life events he encountered along the way. A Colorado native, Andrews started taking classical piano lessons at the age of … more