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Keith Emerson - Emerson Plays Emerson CD (album) cover


Keith Emerson

Crossover Prog

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5 stars Well, this is going to be the first review of this album, thing that make me feel quite excited, and at the same time, with lot of responsability about it; thats why Im going to try to make a precise review of it.

To begin, Keith Emerson is mostly known for ELP, and also for The Nice, maybe the first symphonic band in the way I see it.

His Solo career is not known by everyone, he doesnt have lots of albums as Rick Wakeman for example, but, for sure, most of his albums are really spectacular, and this album, "Emerson plays Emerson" is not the exception.

The album is made of a suit of 22 songs, most of them, between the 2 and 3 minutes, but, believe me, this is pure quality against quantity.

We can see emerson more as a compositor than as a interpreter, as we are most acostumed maybe (the best interpreter with the piano and all kind of instruments for me); he delivers us beautiful songs, some of them, as "Creole dance" shows lot of energy, and some, as "Solitodinous" gives us a lot of feelings, and a sensation that reachs directly to our heart.

To conclude, a complete masterpiece from one of the bests musicians of all history, KEITH EMERSON.

Report this review (#114473)
Posted Wednesday, March 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Keith Emerson, the very name conjures images of bombast and acrobatics, twirling in the air strapped to a piano while playing some outrageous solo or driving knifes into an unarmed organ, grand and epic themes crashing into some spectacular ending that tears must come to your eyes for the poor armadillo with cannons after he gets poked in the eye.

So then how did this simple and beautiful album come from him? Keith isn't trying to win any races here or just show off his technical skills. These aren't even songs in the traditional sense more like themes. What this is a 22 song journey into the thoughts and feelings of a man sitting at a piano. We revisit some old friends like Honky Tonk Train Blues, Creole Dance and the haunting Close to Home all released on prior ELP albums. The rest are compositions or themes Keith has written over the years. The music on this CD flows from one track to another jumping periods in time from the old bluesy jazz Roll n' Jelly to more contemporary themes like Ballad For a Common Man. I like to call the latter music for a rainy afternoon. Those of you who think Keith can't slow down and has to always be over the top needs to listen to BFaCM and others like Solitudinous and Prelude to Candice. On these types of pieces Keith shows he does have a vulnerable soul and lets his beauty come out. When Emerson decides to compose a period piece he does so with all the gusto and reverence for styles those are clearly very dear to him. Honky Tonk New Orlenes blues, 40's style jazz, even a little be-bop, Gershwin and of course even some ELP style we all know and love.

If your looking for the next epic ELP album this isn't it. It might not even be considered a prog record as that all it is a guy and a piano playing songs under 4 minutes long. It might even be something you and your wife or significant other could enjoy together on a lazy Sunday afternoon. So how can I rate it so high as a 5? Because it is a perfect window into the mind and heart of a musician simply done yet always satisfying. I love this album.

Report this review (#116899)
Posted Friday, March 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars There are several ways to analyse this Keith Emerson album.

First, as a keyboard-oriented musician. As such, one will be delighted with the impeccable play, the virtuosity of the man, some subtle moments ("Solitudinous", "The Dreamer") and most will be amazed by both his classical approach as well as the jazzy deep feeling of several pieces. I guess that if you belong to this profile, you would rate this album with four stars.

Second, as a long time ELP fan who is still willing to listen to the great man and is expecting some sort of miracle with each solo album from Keith Emerson. Those ones will be again disappointed because, so far there were little great things released under this umbrella ("Changing States" was the best IMO). If you are closer from this profile as the first one, there are huge possibilities that you would rate this album with one or maybe two stars.

Third, same as second but with some sort of tenderness for the man who has brought so much musical pleasure. These people need to understand that an artist is also playing for himself and doesn't want to bother that much about philosophical contingencies. This leads to such a work that doesn't hold anything prog (as I have said, it is balancing between jazz and classic).

The latter group will be more indulgent than the second one and would rate this album with two or three stars depending if he is closer from the first or the second group. Still, they won't be truly convinced about the music discovered in this album. Was it necessary to get another version of "Summertime" for instance? Probably not.

I rate this album with two stars. I belong to the third group with a serious inclination of the past grandeur.

Report this review (#240323)
Posted Saturday, September 19, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars After spinning a few ELP disks I needed to hear more of Keith today. He's perhaps my all time favourite musician, and his compositional and playing skills just reach a place inside of me that few artists do. This album is simply piano, and in this basic context the complexity and beauty of his art can be plainly experienced. It's amazing how versitile an instrument the grand piano is. Stripped of the usual electronic envelope he's famous for, the music is elemental, and perhaps truer and more immediate. If only he would create and release more like this. Play on sir. ****
Report this review (#808754)
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Surely many albums feat. Keith Emerson, from the Nice to the EL&P, deserved major flavours in developing brilliant- burning-bursting IDEAS in a sort of Blade Runner's world, always on the ridge between different styles... with K's keyboard acrobatics, especially at the Hammond organ & the Robert Moog legendary synth.

Surely - on the contrary! - THIS album feat. KE only at the acoustic piano - i.e. usually a nine-foot Steinway Grand - reveals & demonstrates The Other Side of K's imagination: here he's maybe a finger-breaker, whether in the classical Creole Dance originally written by Alberto Ginastera, or in the boogie-honky tonk-ragtime inspired pieces, like Cajun Alley, Roll 'n Jelly, Hammer It Out; here he's certainly a sort of magic wizard, in depicting smooth paysages, imaginary landscapes of his vast mind not less than (of) his profound heart.

That's The Project KEY! Recorded in different times, the 22 short pieces we found in this album can be distributed per genres/styles: jazz efforts, in which B&W Blues literally overwhelms a clumsy, mechanical Summertime; soundtrack traces, from the Best Revenge series and Lucio Fulci's 1984 italian thriller Murderock; early jazz oriented rags - i.e. Jelly Roll Morton, Eubie Blake, Meade Lux Lewis - including Honky Tonk Train Blues recorded in 1976 with "monster" Oscar Peterson (!) at BBC TV Piano Party Programme; a true GEM, the Creole Dance by Alberto Ginastera - i.e. Keith re- arranged it... with rough/sincere composer's & his wife's approval (!); live pieces - i.e. For Kevin (Gilbert) recorded at Gorge at George, Washington 1996 and Close To Home, Royal Albert Hall, London 1992.

At last - but they connect & amalgamate - not less than eight meditative & introspective pieces, seemingly piano improvisations... but they aren't (!) Here Keith, afar from sleight-of-hands demonstrations, is more than once Close To The Edge, that's always on the ridge between music & painting, playing nothing but the essential - i.e. the Vagrant is a dedication by Keith to his Steinway Grand Piano which is "vagrant" as him... and the Outgoing Tide contains an evident quote from Ludovico Einaudi piano work.

In a few words, Plays Emerson isn't a typical K's album: it's one that classical pianists (!) - especially the ones who dig jazz roots & american composers of the XX century - can esteem & appreciate more & more! nb. Sleeve Notes by Keith are translated in German & in Italian too...

Report this review (#2439098)
Posted Tuesday, August 18, 2020 | Review Permalink

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