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by Seth Colter Walls

May 30, 2014

Radio: Bold American Piano

by Seth Colter Walls  |  May 30, 2014

Let's not be modest. Whether we're talking about how James P. Johnson and Fats Waller cooked up the complex bounce of Harlem stride, or about the way Charles Ives made his dissonant chords really sing out, or about what it feels like when Terry Riley, Philip Glass and John Adams go minimalist with their 88 keys, Americans can write some memorable piano music! Here at last is a radio station that embraces our nation's many styles of solo piano music.

Turns out these different schools may not be as different as you think. Jaki Byard could swing with the best of them, but some of his crunchier chords may put you in mind of the player-piano studies of the idiosyncratic classical composer Conlon Nancarrow, who is also included in this station (and who also enjoyed the feel of swing). We've got a murderer's row of soloists and interpreters on hand: everyone from Duke Ellington, Sun Ra and Ives at the piano themselves to the contemporary-classical recitalist Lisa Moore. Cedar Walton, Cecil Taylor, Jason Moran, Frederic Rzewski -- there's a lot of keyboard talent in here! Whether the chosen dynamics are delicate or pounding, the results will always be dynamic.

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