Album Review in Time Out New York

Album Review in Time Out New York

Date posted: 2006-11-13 17:06:00

Neil Rolnick
Digits (Innova)

The title of the Neil Rolnick piece that lends its name to this collection winks in acknowledgement of the composer's methodology. Digits, composed in 2005, refers to the fingers of the piano soloist, as well as the zeros and ones that animate the computer with which Rolnick manipulates that pianist's sounds. Here, Kathleen Supové produces a torrent of virtuosic gestures; Rolnick's computer echoes and multiplies certain notes and phrases, producing an ivory current that whips and swirls around the performer. Supové has long specialized in playing such enhanced compositions, and Digits is one of the most effective items in her repertoire.

Making Light of It (2005), a cycle of six songs based on poems by Philip Levine, surrounds New York Voices singer Peter Eldridge's handsome, unaffected delivery with chiming electronic keyboards, in memorable melodies by turns radiant and melancholy. A new revision of A Robert Johnson Sampler, originally created in 1987, spins samples of the Delta-blues guitarist's licks into a dizzying, twangy vortex.

Audacious in an altogether different way is Plays Well with Others (2004), an improvisational ramble created for Paul Dresher's ElectroAcoustic Band. In a puckish bit of musical black comedy, Rolnick's Seussian lyrics tell the story of Georgie and Dickie, two bullying boys who compel everyone to play by their rules or suffer the consequences. — Steve Smith

Time Out New York / Issue 580: November 9–15, 2006

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