Gary Paul Bryant - The Piano-And-Then-Some-Man
Paul McCartney did it a couple times. Prince/The Artist LOVES to do it. Gary Paul Bryant doesn't follow in anyone's footsteps, but his shoes and socks are plenty big enough. Gary's new CD, Imaginary Piano, is a tour de force: every sound you hear coming from the same guy, whether it's uptempo Rick Wakeman-like uplifts, or jazz boogie in the style of a solo Henry Mancini, or simply straight jazz blues, just about every style of ebony and ivory is covered here (without actually covering anything; all compositions are his).
"Last Night in Paris" comes somewhere between a march for a suicide in a blues cafe and Queen's "The Show Must Go On," somehow managing to lift the soul a bit from the mountain of misery that only a strong drum can eventually beef into a '70s theme. Film composer Bill Conti would love this music.
Billy Joel might even get jealous of the bright melody and open window freshness of "Simply Happy," as acoustic piano is pit against synth sound and smiling stick beat cheering it on. Good timing before the beautiful, but sad and understated "Time Moves," which probably would have earned an Oscar nomination in the early '80s for a touching underscore of a film's opening credits; think John Morris and his Elephant Man.
Gary knows piano style, and wields his Imaginary Piano into most realms with dignity and ego-less piety. The strength of his "21st Century Waltz" and slow bouncing bass make this one of the more poignant pieces, tinkling much like a Montana sunset, easily proving that he's at his best when simply easing an acoustic sound into a toe-tapping rhythm, brightening cloud cover with his melodic rays.
Going in for a lot of styles at once can be dangerous in a world that Loves to label things. Gary's certainly not attempting New Age, nor most easy to spot genres. "If you're an artist, you express yourself. Sometimes I write loud thundering rock tunes, sometimes pretty little piano pieces. Managers and marketing people are the ones that try to pigeon hole music so it's easier to describe. New-Age for example - it isn't really a genre, it's a philosophy. While I do occasionally write soft piano pieces that might fit what some people call New-Age music, I don't really subscribe to the philosophy. I'm just an old blue collar rocker with a sensitive side. To me, my music is simply instrumental."
By the age of 13, he'd taught himself piano, guitar, drums and accordion, writing his first song two years later. In 1979 he released one of the first indie albums, Just a Word, which has now been remastered and re-released as a 25th anniversary edition, and currently runs the popular site, OnlyPiano.com which broadcasts jazz, classical, blues and new age piano music all day, every day. His personal influences of Thelonious Monk, Vangelis, Bill Evans, the Beatles and John Williams can be heard throughout his previous two instrumental releases from last year (2004). But the inspiration, in such an eclectic load, can come from any direction.
"Over the years I just see all of my music as one long song - with occasional key and tempo changes. I have no idea where this stuff comes from. Certainly I've been influenced by great musicians, composers and other artists, but the basic impetus to just put the tune into a tangible form? It's probably just an exaggeration of self worth.
"I'm very fortunate with the airplay thing. I don't know. I think the marketing channels for popular music are certainly not geared towards instrumental music. If you get an instrumental hit, it's usually in spite of yourself." The Internet has certainly been receptive to Gary's 6th album, with Deliberate Love rocketing to the # 1 World tune on Soundclick.com in April while Suite #5 is headed for #1 in Soundclick.com's Rock/Fusion genre.
So where does the title Imaginary Piano come from? Gary explains: "At one of the first concerts I did when I released my first recording, 'Just A Word' (a very long time ago), people in the audience mimicked my playing, much like an 'air guitar.' That was kinda cool and so when I did this new recording that featured piano, it just seem to make sense."
Imaginary Piano is his 6th release, but watch out for October when Midnight Clear, a CD of solo piano Christmas music, appears. Radio stations from around the world (Spain, France, Belgium, Great Britain, Australia, India, etc.) in more than 50 radio stations have lined up for his kick ass instrumentals, proving that the only constant in musical genres is having ears and liking to have your ass kicked.
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