Solo jazz piano records, by virtue of the instrument?s versatility, run the gamut from the ragtime-inspired stride playing of James P. Johnson to the Western classical music-inspired avant-garde stylings of Cecil Taylor. Steve Million?s solo record Remembering the Way Home falls somewhere a bit to the right of Taylor??not quite as adventurous and ?out there???yet further from the more traditional, blues-inflected, solo jazz piano records as those by Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson and the like.
The influence of twentieth century European classical music is imprinted all over his compositions, his improvisations and his playing. The mood overall is contemplative, the music quite intimate, and Million definitely has a unique style of his own. The CD opens with two short but powerful pieces that like the rest of the tracks are heavy on composition and light on improvisation, but nevertheless quite satisfying. They are reminiscent of Erik Satie compositions with a jazzier more modern character.
The rest of the pieces do not maintain the same momentum, however, and the single track not composed by him, ?Scriabin?s Prelude Opus 16 no. 3,? although stylistically similar, does not quite fit in because it lacks the crispness and more contemporary sound of Million?s own compositions.
The two longer pieces on the second half of the recording tend to become a bit repetitive, enough to allow some loss of interest, but not monotonous enough to flirt with instrumental soft music. The rest of the compositions are intelligent musical nuggets that are masterfully interpreted by the composer although they lack the originality of the first two numbers and are not as contemplative.
This is an intimate record by an accomplished composer and pianist, well versed in both classical and jazz idioms. Even though it is slow at points and is not as adventurous as other jazz solo piano sessions it has enough satisfying moments to reward repeated listens.