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Some of the most interesting people I have ever met were encountered by chance. Like musician Chris Jones. Terri and I were having a quick bite and glass of wine at the bar of a crowded restaurant in downtown Boulder when the lone man next to us started chatting things up. He was a musician celebrating the completion of his newest album—one he'd been working on for the last four years and was quite proud of. What interested me more was the fact he was bragging about the quality of the recording that he made himself. That sounded like a challenge and I offered him the opportunity to hear "what it really sounded like" on the big system in Music Room One. He accepted. To my surprise it not only sounded good, it sounded great! Solo piano recorded live in a large and acoustically beautiful room. And, not only did it sound great but the music was captivating, with Chris so intent we hear him humming Keith Jarret-style. I was stunned by both the recording quality as well as the musical chops Chris displayed and I wanted to share this wonderful music with you. This brilliant pianist deserves to be heard. Though the album was recorded live it took four years for Chris to practice and prepare his instrument for the event. I asked him to put together a brief description of what was involved.
"The piano is a 7 foot Estonia Grand - the case is made of African Bubinga wood and is a thicker, heavier case than most pianos. I had technicians work on the piano for 4 years and then last year had my tuner, the painter Ernest McMullen, move forward with the Victorian tuning which took about a year of adjustments to settle in the piano and stabilize it at that tuning. I recorded the album in the living room of a historic home belonging to famed painter Richard Estes using 2 Miktek omni directional microphones placed a couple feet away from the piano and about 6 feet apart to capture the upper and lower registers. The music was recorded via a Grace analog to digital preamp into a pro tools Mbox which was then linked to my mac laptop. The entire project started in the summer of 2016 in Boulder where I attempted to make the recording on my Steinway but it wasn't a big enough sound for me so I had the recording equipment shipped to Maine where I made the final recording this summer. The takes are entirely off-the-cuff. No pre planning of any kind was made as far as what I would play that includes the album title, the track names etc. I simply invited friends over or played for Richard who I live with for a couple months a year every summer in Northeast Harbor Maine in the fabulous Acadia National Park. The music itself is very much inspired by the beautiful surroundings."
I convinced Chris to post the WAV files of this recording on his offering for download and so, for $11.11, you can download the entire album and be enthralled as I was. This is one album of piano I highly recommend to anyone who enjoys music and good recordings for they are both. Go here to purchase or simply give an audition.
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Paul McGowan

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