Solo piano recitals have a refreshing quality about them. The instrument's and by proxy, the performer's, thoughts are undiluted and benefit from the lack of competition with other voices. Pianist, composer, and educator Michael Kocour offers a collection of standards and originals that provide a case-in-point. In an even ten selections, Kocour carves a collection of finely crafted pieces, each with an individual musical personality and expression.
Starting with Dizzy Gillespie's tender "Con Alma," Kocour shapes an edge to the melody that accentuates the Latin character of the piece without overstating it. His solo versus his left hand bisects the musical streams into its finer elements, demonstrating the complex rhythmic underpinning that drives the songs harmonic machinery. Kocour captures this music as kinesis, entropic movement progressing forward by the momentum of the notes, played one after another. Beautifully, Kocour is less influenced by the mammoth specter of Bill Evans and more by the quiet fire of Tommy Flanagan. This gives way to a more muscular harmonic approach to his performances.
Of keen interest here are Kocour's performances on the Fender Rhodes, an instrument that bears some nostalgic baggage. Kocour is a Rhodes master, never overplaying and always summoning from the instrument all of the funky history and deep groove tones promised in the electronics. Eddie Harris' "Freedom Jazz Dance" receives a concert hall performance full of drama and release. Before that was Clare Fischer's "Pensativa," on which Kocour rolls the notes out like soft marbles.
On the acoustic piano, Kocour gives an expansive reading of "How Deep is the Ocean" while pruning the edges of Thelonious Monk's "Evidence" with a solid left hand. And so this recital goes. Kocour's performance is solid and thoughtful.