Brian Brill's CD, 'Sunday Morning,' perfectly reflects the wide range of styles in which this versatile musician is comfortable. It's not often you hear a recording that flows from celtic to ragtime, from blues to gospel, from new age to pop - sometimes in the space of a single tune - yet sounds unified and coherent. But there is more here than just an empty display of variety and virtuosity. This is music that is at once soothing and inspiring, comforting and uplifting. It is spiritual, encompassing reverence and awe, but manages sanctity without sanctimoniousness and the sacred without the self righteous. Brill is a pianist and two-time Emmy award winning composer and arranger, who has created music and film scores for numerous PBS Television, CBS Sports, and Disney productions. He is also a twenty year veteran of Detroit recording studios, having produced countless radio and television ads for the Big Three automakers and many other corporations. His work has demanded that he wear many musical hats and that is clearly evident here, as is the sure touch of someone who has learned how to get the most out of a modern recording studio. The album sounds just plain gorgeous. Brill expertly mixes the limitless possibilities of an electronic keyboard, and his acoustic piano, with a fine supporting cast on trumpet, guitar, mandolin, violin, and cello. Throughout, there is not a single ill chosen sound or sample. Brill provides all the percussion from his keyboard, but I defy anyone to distinguish between his synthesized drum work and a live drummer. He not only gets the sounds of a kit just right, he plays like a drummer would. The material is an even mix of his own compositions and traditional hymns and melodies like 'Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service,' and the stately Irish tune, 'Be Thou My Vision,' which starts off the recording. Brill's gift for creating beautiful melodies and lush arrangements is evident on the first original, 'All That You Are,' which he co-wrote with his longtime collaborator, another Emmy award winning writer, David Barrett. The version of 'When the Saints Go Marching In' is not the familiar raucous riot of a hot Dixieland band on a Saturday night in New Orleans. It is, rather, a relaxed Sunday morning, church and brunch, in the American heartland. It is light, perfectly in tune with the tone of the rest of the album, while managing to sneak in some surprising harmonies, echo lines and a false ending before the final one, to perk up your listening ears. 'Amazing Grace' is just Brill on acoustic piano, no overdubs, no band, no waking the family on a quiet Sunday morning - at first anyway. It starts out gentle and jazzy, morphs to a slow blues, but winds up in a rollicking boogie woogie that will get you, and the neighbors, out of bed and off to church. 'Striving' is another original whose only fault is that it's soaring melody is so lovely that you want it to go on longer. 'God of the Sparrow, God of the Whale,' by Carl F. Schalk receives the sure handed and loving treatment this modern church hymn so richly deserves. The album reaches it's emotional highs, and depth, with the final three Brill originals. The aptly titled,'Foxhole Religion,' a comic, classic rag on solo acoustic piano, brings a wry grin, even after repeated listening. The dark and stirring 'Wise Men's Journey' evokes wild Riverdance images, but also works in a serene Greensleeves quote, before seamlessly returning to the rousing tune and exhilarating ending. 'Sunday Morning' closes as the best of Sunday mornings do, with 'Grace.' It's just Brill and his piano with a heart warming melody that is consoling, cleansing, cheering and refreshing. There is plenty of energy on this recording, though thankfully no fire and brimstone, no threats of hell and damnation. Instead, there is praise, compassion, even forgiveness if need be. This is music, not just for Sunday morning - it's for every day of the week.
You May Also Like
Page 1 of