Jean-Michel Pilc: Piano Soloist at The Jazz Gallery

Last night with approximately twenty other people, I was privileged to see virtuoso pianist Jean-Michel Pilc perform solo at the Jazz Gallery which is located in the lower west-side of the village in Manhattan, New York.

At the outset, he mentioned how he at one time played with Harry Belafonte Jr. and that he then played a song that Mr. Belafonte would often sing. It was Jean-Michel's first time playing the piece publicly which was somewhat obvious.

The next song played sounded like a blues based improvisation. He didn't introduce the song, though I doubt if I would have understood him anyway if he did. The piece had a light funky feel to it and occasionally he would add an unexpected virtuoso splash though although these unexpected ornaments were a surprise they felt quite appropriate. I was reminded of Oscar Peterson once while listening to this piece when while playing the melody, he inserted a scale at blazing speed that completed his melodic line and then he resumed back to the melody.

The third piece of the night was an arrangement by Jean-Michel of a a Felix Mendelssohn composition that Jean-Michel played in a rather largo type manner. Though he played the piece slowly it was played with an orchestral tone but not necessarily an orchestral approach.

While the first three songs of the night Jean-Michel tended to stick with the format of the left hand acting as an accompaniment and right hand playing the melody, the fourth song of the night, which was a suite, he displayed several type of meter patterns and polyphonic type textures combining Russian classical type of influences(Scriabin etc...) with blues. Everyone in the audience could be seen moving their heads and body with the flow of the music.

Overall, I appreciated his harmonic basis and his adjacent application of various styles of music without losing his listeners.

Peter Duhon

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