David Chesky,
The New York Rags
(independent, 2013)

David Chesky is someone who takes risks and is not content to play it safe musically. Experimenting with unconventional tempos, dissonance and syncopation is something I would expect from an innovator, and this CD does not disappoint in that respect as it includes all of the above.

As a native New Yorker myself, I was interested to hear his perceptions musically of the different areas of the city as well as how he depicts the people and places that have inspired New York. I must admit I liked the subliminal insertion of West Side Story into the "Bernstein" rag and how he incorporated a Duke Ellington feel into "The Duke" rag, both of which illustrates this brilliantly. Chesky manages to create an atmosphere of the contemporary urban city that New York is; however, everything is at such a frenetic pace on this CD that it gets a bit tedious. Dynamically I would have preferred some of the serene sections of the city that he could have included. He could have looked at the Cloisters, for instance, or Tryon Park, which is picturesque and tranquil. For me there are more facets to the city that could have been included and quieter musical moments for reflection.

Although this CD is highly experimental and moves on from the traditional Scott Joplin format, which is to be admired, there was a bit too much of the same style for me. Those who think they will be coming away humming "The Entertainer" may be a tad disappointed. As the meters are sometimes septuple (such as "The Thanksgiving Day Parade Rag in 7/4," they aren't meant for audience participation.

However, what they are meant for is listening to as a fusion of jazz, urban and a dash of classical.

music review by
Risa Duff

3 August 2013

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