Talk about truth in advertising. Christopher Lapina skims through New Age, jazz in smooth and standard varieties, and solo piano as he and his friends make their way through this Eclectic Eve. It’s an ambitious undertaking and a lot for the listener to take in, but Lapina and crew manage to keep the ride smooth and enjoyable through all the shifts. The strongest tracks here are the ones that tip toward the jazzy side of things. “Lucy Turns Eclectic” feels like Vince Guaraldi hooking up with Manhattan Transfer. A cappella vocals open the track with a very Peanuts cartoon-worthy “doo doo doo” melody, like easygoing scat, over a brushed beat. The piano, played by John Fluck, kicks in and the whole thing just rises up in joy. They win points with me here because I’m a huge jazz trio fan–piano, drums and bass. “Rolling Blue” feels like a lost Steely Dan instrumental, with sax from Rob Holmes and guitar from Phil McCusker. They playfully trade lines, Holmes reaching down into the low registers to pull his notes up and let them fly. They square off again in “String Theory,” where Holmes’ sax absolutely seduces and smokes and McCusker comes out of a place of cool soul to lace his lines through the groove. The Eve switches up in feel when Lapina brings cellist Suzanne Orban into this mix. “This Time” and “Before You” feature her lush, romantic work dancing gracefully past Lapina’s melodies. The smoothness of the cello is particularly effective when paired with Lapina’s prepared piano on “This Time.” The high, tinny sounds from the piano counterpoint the low-end tones on the strings and the long sighs Orban strokes out.
The tracks that put the piano in the forefront are beautiful showcase pieces. Lapina’s gorgeous composition “Moon and Spoon” is textbook New Age piano in its approach and effect, glistening with feeling. Here the piano, played by Roland Chiles, stands alone, except for subtle and perfectly placed moments where pad-like strings sing softly in the back. “She’s Often Here” skirts an edge of darkness with a quirky rhythm and a deep voice whispering a story beneath it. Even so, the playing is a pleasure to listen to and the way the piece comes together, taking up just two minutes, simply captivates.
With its diversity, this is the sort of disc that slips smoothly into a shuffle. It certainly stands on its own, however, the changes in tone and style making it like a radio station all its own–a station that only plays the good stuff. Well worth a listen.
Available from Christopher Lapina’s web site.