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Reissues of Modern Classical Music: Daniel Lentz and Chas Smith

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DANIEL LENTZ: Point Conception (CD on Cold Blue Music)

This CD from 2007 offers 47 minutes of piano music.

Composer Lentz offers two tracks featuring Arlene Dunlap and Bryan Pezzone on piano.

The first track (the title piece) is a long composition. It is scored for nine pianos. While the main piano handles the central melody, the auxiliary keyboards follow in loose configuration, enhancing the theme with their embellishments. The music is highly dramatic, emotional despite its intellectual character, and quite sprightly in its deft execution. The notes cascade with a spry delivery, accumulating to express an intricate composition that persists in expanding and seeking thrilling new variations. The pace remains brisk, with energetic chords that segue with slick definition, generating a relentless progression that climbs through twinkling passages to attain high altitudes for an emphatic finale.

The second piece (“Nightbreaker,” which appears here for the first time) is much shorter (nine minutes compared to the prior track’s 37 minute length). This piece is more sober and pensive, reflective with its nimble-fingered notes. The mood may be nocturnal, but it is hardly dark, communicating a wistful sentiment with key rolls punctuated by strident chords. A level of jubilant animation is achieved through an assertive performance.

This pair of compositions explore modern tunes shorn of rhythms or rock-out solos. Their intent is serious and contemplative, the type of tuneage you sit back and appreciate with full concentration rather than putting on as a background element.

While the title track was originally included on a Lentz album in 1984, the version on this CD has been remixed.

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CHAS SMITH: Nakadai (CD on Cold Blue Music)

This album from the 1980s has been reissued in 2008 and includes 2 bonus tracks in the 65 minutes of ambient modern music.

Smith plays pedal steel guitar, steel guitar and percussion. He is joined by Bob Fernandez, John Fitzgerald, M.B. Grady, and Theresa Knight on percussion.

Here we have a truly eclectic situation: Smith utilizes modern instruments to create contemporary classical tuneage. His application of steel guitar to achieve cerebrally ambient compositions is a delight for fans of modern music.

Smith’s sustained guitar chords vibrate with serene potency, the tonalities interweaving with each other to generate luscious harmonics. While often eerie in substance, this music evokes an introspective disposition with its layers of ethereal resonance. The textures flow with severe austerity, filling the air with a plethora of threads that combine to form endearingly soothing music. Despite the strict ambience accomplished, the songs possess an edgy quality that tingles deep in the brain.

These tracks exhibit a ghostly mien as the texturals create a vaporous atmospheric spectacle full of subliminal sparkle.

A few pieces feature twinkling beats of bell-like fragility which lend a decidedly celestial touch to the overall gaseous character of the music. The presence of conventional percussion is extremely submerged, barely discernible amid the music’s tonal definition.

The new tracks display an edgier quality as sharp expressions mark the dreamy flow with unexpected punctuations.

These compositions generally pursue harmonic definition, stacking layers of haunting tones to produce a panoramic fog of shimmering luster. The material will hold strong appeal for listeners seeking ambience with a subtle touch of intensity.

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