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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Keith Emerson

Emerson Plays Emerson

Review by Gary Hill

Perhaps in some circles the late great Keith Emerson is known primarily for his synthesizer work. The man was an incredible piano player, though. This album showcases solo piano work. Mind you, there are a few songs here that have other instruments ranging from a full jazz band to jazz trio and synthesizer. The piano is the focal point, though. There is a good deal of variety here, and plenty to please fans of Emerson and the instrument. It should be noted that this has landed under prog because it's Keith Emerson, not because of the music, really. There are things here ranging from classically tinged sounds to jazz treatments and honky tonk.

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Track by Track Review
Vagrant
This is a thoughtful and pretty piano solo. It feels tastefully restrained.
Creole Dance
There is a lot of energy built into this fast paced piece. While it's another piano solo number, it's absolutely different than the opener. This is one I remember Emerson doing with ELP.
Solitudinous
More in the slower, mellower vein, this is another pretty cut.
Broken Bough

 There is clearly a lot of classical sound in the mix here.

A Cajun Ally
This has a real Cajun, Dixieland kind of vibe to it. It's energetic and a lot of fun.
Prelude to Candice
There is a soaring kind of vibe to this in a lot of ways. It has some parts that are trademark Emerson, too.
A Blade of Grass
With some classical music in the mix, this is an evocative piano solo. It also has some trademark Emersonisms.
Outgoing Tide
This really does feel tidal somehow in the way it ebbs and flows.
Summertime
With a lot of jazz in the mix, this is bouncy and a bit unpredictable. Yet, it's also a lot of fun.
Interlude
A pretty and rather classically oriented piece, I really like this quite a bit.
Roll'n Jelly
A cut named for Jelly Roll Morton, this is in a similar style to his music. It's a classy number.
B&W Blues
In a change there is some stand up bass (Rob Statham) and some drums (Frank Scully) on this piece. It seems like it leans back toward Emerson's old trio pre-Nice. This is very much a jazz styled piece. This piece is one of the highlights of the set as far as I'm concerned. It's just so much fun.
For Kevin
More of a pretty balladic piece, this has some synthesizer built into it. This one is a live recording.
The Dreamer
Powerful fast paced classically tinged music is on order here. There is some synthesizer here, too.
Hammer It Out
Now, the jazz and honky tonk elements really come to the fore on this screaming hot tune.
Ballad for a Common Man
A pretty and intricate piano piece, this is a nice number.
Barrelhouse Shakedown
This is another that has a lot of honky tonk built into it. It's a fun and energetic piano jam.
Nilu's Dream
Another intricate and thoughtful piano solo, this seems rather sad.
Soulscapes
I love the extended progressions on this piece. It feels quite classical in nature.
Close to Home
This is a live piano solo that works quite well.
Honky Tonk Train Blues
This cut was recorded with Keith Emerson playing with Oscar Peterson and his band. It's a powerhouse jazz treatment that makes for another highlight of the disc.
Nicola / Silver Shoes / I'll See You in My Dreams
This was recorded when Emerson was 14 years old. As you can imagine the recording quality is not the best here, but it sure shows the talent the man had at such a young age.
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