Rise by Jim Chappell
Unspeakable Freedom Music (2009) 57:50 minutes
Review by Kate Russell
This album is from a relative veteran of the New Age Music Scene. Now some twenty years since his first album was released, and with many more of them under his belt, Jim Chappell’s new release, ‘Rise’ describes itself as a “soothing, inspiring, solo piano” album.
Consisting of fourteen tracks varying from two minutes in length to just over five, “Rise” reminded me at first of the musical stylings of Vince Guaraldi (the guy who composed and played the music for animated Peanuts specials). And whilst there are no animated characters on this album, the fourteen bite-sized tracks of smooth jazz, are every bit as sweet and reassuring for the cold Fall weather as ‘A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving’ and the pumpkin pie that goes with it.
‘Rise’ is the title song from this album and starts it off with gently gliding arpeggios and melody. ‘We’re Okay’ is laid back and easy, with ‘Good Again’ evoking happy, almost childlike feelings. ‘David’ starts off pensive and just gets better and better throughout, brimming with emotion towards the end – definitely a stand out piece on this album. ‘Diamonds in Her Eyes’ is a wistful, piano-bar melody, with ‘Play Date’ breaking up the dreaminess with a more playful, lively feel. ‘Everything You Said’ is a song for the lovers – the dramatic pauses throughout the song provide space for thought and mutual eye staring. ‘Four Leaf Clover’ has a beautiful refrain, and ‘Something To Smile About’ is engrossing and light-hearted at the same time. ‘I Knew I’d Love You’ is another pretty, wistful melody with ‘Eleven’ creating a more grounded mood. ‘Graduation Day’ is procession-like, ‘A Longer Kiss’ brings more dreaminess and ‘The Last Goodnight’ finishes off the album on a simple, but very final note.
Born and raised in Michigan, Jim grew up inspired by the likes of Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett and Roger Kellaway. After traveling around the States in his formative years, he relocated to Nashville to start a singing career. However, comments from close friends on the touching quality of his piano improvisation made him reconsider this decision and move to California where he began to make piano albums instead.
And thank goodness he did.
‘Rise’ is a great achievement, a joy to listen to and perhaps most importantly for the listener, an optimistic and reflective journey for the soul. Each piece is well written, moving and enjoyable and a must for the collection of anyone who loves uplifting piano music, jazz accents or just wants a beautiful album to relax to. For more information on Jim Chappell, his previous albums and ‘Rise’ check out: http://www.jimchappell.com/
Kate Russell is a singer/songwriter and busker from Vancouver, up until recently performing under the stage name Jadis Gloom (www.myspace.com/jadisgloom). Currently she is taking some time out from her solo music projects to write, listen to other styles of music and gain inspiration from other artists and their own creative journeys. Believing that to look into someone’s art is also to look inside their soul, she enjoys the intimate opportunities for understanding others in new ways that being a music critic provides.