Alan Rosenthal’s “Elbow Grease” is an eclectic sophomore effort

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This fall has proven to be rich with stellar jazz efforts. That is proven true with pianist’s Alan Rosenthal’s latest release, “Elbow Grease.”

Rosenthal has written all songs except one on the album. With a verve-rich mix of humor, jazz and a touch of classical music. “Elbow Grease” is full of sound, rich textures and a range of moods. Among the most interesting pieces are “Another Sky” and “Up the Kazoo.”

About Alan Rosenthal

A native of New York City, Rosenthal formalized his music studies at the University of Chicago, where he majored in composition. His original studies were in classical piano, but returning to New York signaled a return to jazz. There, Rosenthal began to play in a number of popular venues. He has even worked with those outside of jazz. Most notably perhaps is the pop singer, Fantasia. Rosenthal accompanied her on the television show “20/20.”

“Another Sky” and “Up the Kazoo” by Alan Rosenthal

Rosenthal is a low-key energetic musician. The feeling builds up and suddenly, the listener finds herself swept into a feeling. It is not at all unpleasant. The album, “Elbow Grease” opens with, “Another Sky.” The track is called a “preface.” The song is as beautiful as it is skillful. With strong moments of classical arrangements, jazz works its way into “Another Sky” unobtrusively. The staccato notes later in the song that give way to lush melodies are emotive and give the track even more texture.

From the beautiful moods of “Another Sky,” “Elbow Grease” moves into the big, bright horns and rolling drums of “Up the Kazoo.” A vibraphone is used well to accent what is going on around it. The motif with the horns and drums sounds at once like pageantry and a good time. The vibes solo is nice – – rich-sounding and spirited. There is so much to recommend this album.

“Up the Kazoo” has a full, jazz feel. It sounds like a classic that has been played by many others over the years. But it is not. This seems proof enough that Rosenthal is a unique performer. At the end of “Up the Kazoo” or at the beginning of the next track, Rosenthal (presumably) calls out “Victory dance!” If ever a jazz album warranted such, this is it.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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