Washington Post Review

The Washington Post
December 30, 1994

Burnett Provides Good "Times"

By Mike Joyce, Post Music Critic

Inspired by Bach, Chopin, Ellington, the Gershwins, Porter and even Joel--Billy, that is--pianist Burnett Thompson's new album, "Uncertain Times," is serious fun.

It's music designed for both the head and the heart--ordered and romantic, deliberate and impulsive, stately and swinging, cerebral and sentimental. Burnett improvises and embellishes with a mathematical precision, often creating pointillistic designs along the way, but there's also something inherently whimsical about his approach to the piano, a kind of playful inquisitiveness that keeps the music fresh and surprising.

His inventiveness can be traced back to J.S. Bach on the album's precise and evocative title track, a three-part homage, but it's evident throughout the album--on a tart reading of Ellington's "Prelude to a Kiss," which, purposely or not, recalls the influence Ellington had on Thelonious Monk; on a bright, reharmonized take of "Moten Swing"; and on similarly thoughtful but never stodgy reworkings of Porter's "Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)," the Gershwins' "Somebody Loves Me" and Joel's "And So It Goes." All of the performances, in fact, account for why "Uncertain Times" makes for such a delightful one.

Go back to the Uncertain Times home page.