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Ballads & Burners by Dave Frank

Pianist Dave Frank’s Ballads & Burners, like Rome, was not built in a day. It began in 2000 with three separate sessions and then over four years it evolved into his second solo piano release for the Jazzheads record label. Frank, a noted educator who presently directs the Dave Frank School of Jazz in New York, invites listeners through a portal of varying moods, hues and tempos and social commentaries.

Aptly titled, "The Spirit of the Burn!" is Frank’s opening "go-for-broke" finger-buster built on the changes of Jerome Kern’s "Yesterdays". It sounds like the reaction to a hay wagon on fire. "The Mechanization of America" is illustrative of our nation’s industrialized sounds that churn around us day and night. At one point, Frank sounds like "hammers hitting steel." It’s reminiscent of the quirky compositional work of pianist Raymond Scott (much of which will forever be linked to cartoons. Except for a fistful of commercial jingles, he never wrote full compositions for cartoons - they just happened to fit them.) "Information Highway" is a commentary on our rapid exchange and dissemination of information via the Web.

"Rousseau’s World" (French Post-Impressionist painter Henri Rousseau, whose depictions of jungle life is unferocious and exotic), "Salvador Dali in a State of Grace"(Dali The Surrealist, who threw his personal obsessions onto canvas), "Jackson Pollack at Work" (Pollock, whose feral dreams became brilliants drips and pours), "Shades of Renoir" (Pierre-Auguste Renoir, whose warm depictions of the flesh are passively seductive) and "Portrait of Manet" (the Parisian Edouard Manet, whose unscripted portraits of life somehow upset the public's mock sense of modesty) were crafted from his visit to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, MA. They are "This is what I see" moments that he’s captured from that day. They’re as opinionated as any oral statement he could have made. Frank closes with Cole Porter’s "It’s Alright with Me", played at the same brisk tempo as "The Spirit of the Burn!"

Ballads & Burners is Frank’s exploratory journey of experiences and perceptions that he feels is his best record yet. Maybe so. But his insightfulness to the complexities and beauties of our world may lead him in the future to challenge his personal best.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Dave Frank
  • CD Title: Ballads & Burners
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2006
  • Record Label: Jazzheads Records
  • Rating: Four Stars
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