FAME Review: Neil Alexander - Darn That Dream: Solo Piano Vol. 1
Neil Alexander - Darn That Dream: Solo Piano Vol. 1

Darn That Dream:
Solo Piano Vol. 1

Neil Alexander

PDOG Records - PD00512

Available from Neil Alexander's online store.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

At the age of 85, Boyd Lee Dunlop issued his first-ever solo CD, The Lake Reflections (here), not long after dying, being medically brought back, and then departing the rest home he'd resided in. The disc was acclaimed far and wide, including venues like NPR, for not only the back story but also such a wildly unorthodox approach to solo piano work and to the whole notion of composition and improv. Lake is a challenging but engrossing CD, and the lead cut, the title song, in Neil Alexander's Darn That Dream is in line with it, daunting but with much wider swaths of recognizable modes and idiomatics rife with angelic and bedeviling turns of psychology, modus, and imagery.

It is in fact a madhouse of sidereally abstract passes at the celebrated song's melodics, so crazed and compelling that two different versions are included on this release, and then you're rescued from the cyclonics to the player-composer's Stop for a Moment (and Listen), a pastorale and pensée sitting lakeside with willows overhanging, sun glinting off the water. Far from New Age, it's a reverie of considered needlework, not a mall knock-off of dogs playing poker but a Boucher tapestry rich with meadows and ancient oaks. Enjoy it fully, for no sooner does it wind down then we're back in the maelstrom in A Question of Energy, and its stormy Raymond Scott musculature.

Unlike Dunlop's CD, though, Alexander's is dominantly pastoral but with defined literacy, as in Traveller's Tale, forming narrative lines disporting well outside the tradition of medicinal sonic soporifics. Tale in fact is not unlike Keith Jarrett's solo flights when the mighty ECM giant waxed Impresso-Romantic, neoclassically unconventional but starkly coherent, taking eldritch values more carefully into the moderne. The return to standards in My Foolish Heart fragments that discipline more obliquely, preferring as many hints and suggestions as quotations, and if your disposition can handle such radical jumps between modes and cerebrations, then you know what to do.

Track List:

  • Darn That Dream (version 1) (Van-Heusen / DeLange)
  • Stop For A Moment (And Listen) (Neil Alexander)
  • A Question Of Energy (Neil Alexander)
  • Whisper Of Angels (Neil Alexander)
  • Everyman (The Flight Of The Falcon) (Neil Alexander)
  • Sirabhorn (Pat Metheny) (Neil Alexander)
  • The Traveler's Tale (Neil Alexander)
  • My Foolish Heart (Young / Washington)
  • Blues For Martha (Graham) (Neil Alexander)
  • Darn That Dream (version 2) (Neil Alexander)
  • Epilogue (Neil Alexander)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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