Let me right off the bat say that Peter Liu's recitations of songs in the Chinese tongue are the best I've yet heard. I suspect that's because he's married the Oriental with the Occidental perfectly, understood the limitations and borders of both languages well, so much so that the three numbers here—A Love Before Time (theme to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Gan Lan Shu and Shanghai Tan (Theme to The Bund)—are almost scat…and why not? If one doesn't undertand a language per se, each such exercise turns into pure sonics and vocables. I wish to hell he would've inserted at least two more such renditions into this release…better yet: perhaps, later, an entire CD? Regardless, Bamboo Groove is piano bar music of a sort that, were he to be a local, would be selling out L.A. area clubs night after night. The reason? His is an upbeat delivery rendered in clear pure tones, exactly the sort of thing aerospace and film industry people, laboring under stressful conditions over long hours here amid smog and permanent traffic jams, badly need.
I went immediately to the Bricusse/Newley Who Can I Turn To? cut 'cause I dig that number a LOT, and was very well satisfied but soon found that track after track followed in the same smiling, comfortable, positive (even when wistful), relaxing manner. The backing trio (bass, piano, drums) is companioned by two sessioneers, everything captained by pianist Peter Hum, and they all keep Liu well backgrounded, but note must be made of clarinetist Scott Poll and then bassist Norman Glaude's utilization of harmonica (only one track, dang it!), as the two add immense atmospherics. Poll is outstanding, a righteous companion and contrast to Liu's lines, taking each song up another notch.
Favorite track? Yep, the Who Can I Turn To? cover. It's light, springy, inspiring, and indexes right into a turn-that-frown-upside-down mood. I wouldn't place Peter into a Michael Franks category—Franks is a nonpareil and will forever remain singular—but Mike's fans would swoon over the two Petes, Liu and Hum. They and compeers would be a killer opening act at the Hollywood Bowl or similar venue. No…wait…I might be wrong on that, on the size element, a lot could well be lost in getting across to 10,000 people in an arena as versus fifty or sixty in a lounge (hmmmm, do those even exist in this country any more?), a ton of warmth and intimacy trampled in the overdriven blare of a P.A. system that could otherwise run a small country. Man, so many choices and problems nowadays! So I think I'll go back and cool out to this CD again, leaving the solutions for another day. I need the oasis time; so do you.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2015, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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