Mike Garson: Conversations With My Family
Conversations With My Family
Mike Garson (piano)
Conversations With My Family (Resonance RCD-1004)
Mike Garson (piano).
Composed by Mike Garson.
Recorded: Beverly Hills, CA, August 2007
Rating: 95/100 (learn more)
I don't think I have come across a more personal recording than this one. When I receive CDs to review, I spend the first few minutes reading the liner notes. This is an old habit I acquired from when there used to be real liner notes. Their inclusion is becoming less and less a part of modern releases. Conversations With My Family is packaged in such a beautiful way that I wonder how the record company could make any money on the release. I may investigate that at a later time. (BTW: There is also a bonus DVD included featuring Garson along with Lori Bell, Dave Carpenter and Peter Erskine.) The Garson family photos and Garson's own words inside the sleeve touched me before I even heard a single note of the music. Even his in-laws are pictured. You don't see that type of affection very often.
Keyboardist Garson, who has spent three decades collaborating with David Bowie, has been writing music about his family for just as long. Some of those tunes are presented here, along with the help of some fine players including drummer Gary Novak. The music is a hybrid of jazz improvisation and classical flourishes. It could very easily be performed as a suite.
The title cut is a piano solo. It is a resonating piece loaded with heartfelt sentiment. Its introduction is a deep and slow acknowledgement of the blessings Garson has received from his family. Midsection to end is Garson's statement of joy. Emotion rings out from every key strike.
One of the quotes inside the CD package comes from David Bowie. In so many words, he says it is pointless to talk about what a great piano player Garson is. He is correct. You can be a tremendously skilled player and still not be able to tell a story. And music is all about telling stories. The tale being told here is Garson's musical equivalent of his family tree. Hearing the pianist in this context is a revelation. Ironically, it makes me have more respect for David Bowie for hanging around with the guy!
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky