Spencer Brewer – Cinematic – (2 CDs) SpencerBrewer.com *****:

(CD1: solo piano; CD2: with Brewer also on B-3 organ & pump organ; up to 12-piece group arr. by Brewer and Paul McCandless, with guests McCandless, Alex de Grassi, Norton Buffalo, Jeremy Cohen & others)

This is quite a double-disc album for an artist-originated project.  The general idea, as its title would suggest, is music which creates mini-films in the mind’s eye thru its descriptive, fantasy-like qualities.  There is a New Age feel to some of the tracks but mostly they go deeper than that, and there are nice little jazz touches here and there.  The presence of reed man McCandless (of Oregon) would indicate a sort of smooth jazz/Paul Winter sort of genre but the whole project partakes of a more creative slant than that.

There are 13 tracks on Disc 1 and 14 on Disc 2 but the latter are nearly all the same tunes in a different order and with added instrumentation – though sometimes it is as basic as adding a guitar, harmonica and string bass.  Not all the tracks are mini-soundtracks – some, such as Lupin Swing, are outright uptempo jazz outings. The title tune Cinematic undergoes quite a lush transformation in the orchestral version on Disc 2.  With McCandless soloing on English horn and flute, it recalled for me Alec Wilder’s piece for English horn and chamber orchestra from the 1940s.

  1. Quintessence
  2. Say What?
  3. Ode for Patricia
  4. Fellini’s Carousel
  5. Into the Mirror
  6. Blueberry Street
  7. Last Chance for Eden
  8. Morning Glory
  9. Caravanserai
10. Lupin Swing
11. Satie’s Forgotten Dream
12. Walls That Move
13. Heartwood
14. Quintessence (Full Orch)
15. Morning Glory (Full Orch)
16. Blueberry Street (Full Orch)
17. Ode for Patricia (Full Orch)
18. Fellini’s Carousel (Full Orch)
19. Say What? (Full Orch)
20. Outer Limits
21. Trip to Glory
22. Cinematic
23. Lupin Swing (Full Orch)
24. Last Chance for Eden (Full Orch)
25. Dreamgift
26. Satie’s Forgotten Dream (Full Orch)
27. Heartwood (Full Orch)

– John Henry