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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Gary Paul Bryant

Imaginary Piano

Review by Gary Hill

Fans of keyboard instrumental music, rejoice, there is a new name in town and the man can play. Gary Paul Bryant's take on this medium touches on the sounds of such prog heroes and Rick Wakeman, Vangelis and Keith Emerson. He's not content to stay there, though, bringing in echoes of Billy Joel and Elton John and even calling on the genius of Henry Mancini at times. There are other elements to this aural stew, but whatever the particular mix on any song, this grooves and entertains. It wanders the musical borders between progressive rock, jazz and pop quite well, with Bryant incorporating all those sounds to create an soundscape that is all his own.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Suite #5
Coming in bouncy and fun, a quick burst of playful Wakeman like music moves it into territory that feels a lot like that keyboard wizard's solo music. This moves forward with both waves of bouncy sounds and bursts of frantic virtuosic playing that runs the gamut from classical piano to movie music, and all in a very fun and listenable prog package.
Will You Have Me Now
A major change from the last one, a pretty and sedate piano line starts this and begins a slow building process creating an instrumental build up that is soothing and pretty. Synthesizers weave lines across the top. Eventually it shifts gear to a more high energy and playful jam and even turns a little Keith Emerson-like later. It reverts to the soothing tones as it continues down the road then moves back up to the playful. A quick keyboard flourish drops it back to the opening segment to end.
Imaginary Piano
This one comes in with a more old time pop sound and a honky tonk piano plays over top of this growing percussion. As it carries forward it feels like it could have been a theme song to a '70's TV show. I can even swear I hear a little "Bonanza" in there at points. It drops back to the more sedate as it moves forward, then dramatic elements carry it up until a new melody with piano solo moves it on. The original "chorus" theme returns later and it levels back to earlier movements after that then reworks progressions to lead into a piano run that serves as to end the composition.
Bye Bye Now!
Feeling like a jazzy Henry Mancini movie theme, this song rolls and grooves. Keith Emerson seemingly makes a couple of appearances here. Well, it sure sounds like it anyway. Bryant's piano is on fire on this one. It drops late to something that seems to merge Van Halen's keyboard oriented days with prog, and then jumps back into the fast paced jazz jam with a vengeance. This is another definite winner.
Last Night In Paris
Sedate and melancholy textures start this and a grind sort of pattern emerges to move it slowly forward. This gets quite powerful and involved later and Bryant shows off his piano skills in fine fashion once again.
Simply Happy
This is another pretty and rather playful number that feels a bit like Elton John meets Billy Joel and Rick Wakeman. A simulated sax solo is a nice touch. It gets pretty potent and involved as it carries forward.
Time Moves
A pretty piano line starts this, then more piano joins in to spin a lush (especially when other keys also come in) and emotional song that feels a bit like Vangelis at times. A new section takes it later with an almost old world texture, but the earlier themes once again gain control.
FlipSide
This represents a jazzy killer number that rocks out at a fairly frantic pace, feeling at times like ELP. It drops down a bit later, but a smoking piano solo section later renews the intensity. This is another standout.
Deliberate Love
A pretty guitar based melody starts this and it is eventually replaced by a beautiful keyboard dominated texture. This one is gentle and very pretty. It's just not what I would think of as a disc closer.
 
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