Various Artists — Steinway to Heaven
(Magna Carta MA-9011-2, 1996, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1997-02-01
Yup. A full album of rock keyboard gods performing straight ahead (almost) classical pieces on piano, totally solo, sink or swim. Indeed this is proof positive that the likes of Emerson, Wakeman, Brian Auger, Patrick Moraz, Steve Porcaro, and a handful of others have what it takes; but the bigger underlying question is: beyond that, what does this album do? Why would any classical fan buy this in favor of similarly perfect versions by some stuffy better known classical pianist? Putting that question aside, this is one enjoyable and very impressive disc that I'm certain most would enjoy. Two pieces by Beethoven, one each by Liszt, Fauré, Ravel, Brahms, Prokofiev, Ginastera (guess who?), and four by Chopin (that's way too much Chopin for me) are covered by the aforementioned players, plus Dizzy Reed (Guns n' Roses), Chuck Leavell (Sea Level), Tony Hymas (Jeff Beck), David Bryan (Bon Jovi), Mark Robertson (Cairo), Jordan Rudess (Dixie Dregs) and Chris Ingles (Shadow Gallery). By the way, the subtitle of this disc is "Magna Carta's Keyboard Hall of Fame, Volume One"; I have an idea for volume two: why not get a bunch of classical pianists to make an album showing what they can do playing rock numbers on a Hammond B3 with a three piece band? 'Nuff said; this is a good one for what it is.
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more