Dave Frank: Rosseau's World
Dave Frank (piano)
Ballads And Burners (Jazzheads 1153)
Dave Frank (piano).
Composed by Dave Frank.
Recorded: Hyperstudio, Long Island, NY April-May 2000
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Dave Frank’s facility with his left hand would be the envy of many a pianist. He can also play the gamut of styles from burning fast to whisperingly sensitive with his right as it suits his fancy. Having been a student of Tristano, he carries some of that musical heritage with him. On this album he does a series of smoking burners and sensitive ballads. It is the burners that make you drop your jaw and think “wow!” Like any demonstration of pure technical facility, no matter how eye popping, it can leave you surprised but with little else beyond awe. But Frank is no one trick pony. He is incredibly facile and sometimes blindly fast, but it is his ballads that I find the most rewarding.
Frank rarely plays with other musicians and he feeds off his own inner workings. His playing seems less introspective than Evans and less expanded than Jarrett. He seems to say what he wants to say in a more compact form. I wonder if he would become even more expansive with the wonderful musical interaction that a working trio of fine musicians can provide? Nonetheless his ballads are tightly woven and intricately formulated and if they sometimes feel slightly unfinished—he doesn’t probe too deeply or linger too long on any one theme—that is the artist’s prerogative. He does compose and play some beautifully sensitive music on this album where he has done a series of ballads dedicated to the work of some of his favorite painters.
On “Rousseau’s’ World” he uses the painting The Sleeping Gypsy as his inspiration. He employs a cyclic chord progression beneath the melody to create an aural representation of the serenity he sees in the painting. The melody is hauntingly evocative of a peaceful place where the Gypsy lays under the moonlit sky sleeping under the watchful eye of the lion. Frank makes clever use of space between the notes to create greater drama as he plays the pretty melody. The piece is only two minutes and thirty-five seconds long and at the midway point he makes a musical run that certainly evokes Evans if only briefly, and represents a break in the otherwise serene piece—perhaps the lion has sinister motives? He then pauses leaving you to ponder what you just heard before the coda, where he returns to the sleeping gypsy.
Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello