There was a time when you couldn't swing a dead cat in New York without hitting a Rhodes
player, including a first tier of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Jan Hammer, etc. The Fender Rhodes
electric piano was developed by Harold Rhodes (his partnership with electric guitar pioneer Leo
Fender lasted only six years), and it has one of the most distinctive sounds in music.
music technology, such as synthesizers and digital keyboards, offered versatility and portability. But
none could electronically duplicate the sound of the Rhodes. They might come close, but only a real
Rhodes could give you that sound.
The Rhodes has been making a bit of a comeback lately with use in hip-hop and R&B bands.
That sound will definitely make you recall "back in the day" memories. So it was with
that I listened to New York Electric Piano. On keyboards is Pat Daugherty, who does not
merely play the electric piano, but takes you on a sonic tour of the sounds that the Rhodes is
capable of producing. He even uses a "lead and rhythm electric piano" approach on
Drummer Aaron Comess and bassist Tim Givens, who provide very tight support and intuitive/solid
playing, round out the band.
Although the electric piano is the primary lead instrument, the acoustic piano is also a featured
voice. The multi-tracked pianos are carefully mixed to create subtle tonal nuances and textures
within the songs. There is a lot to discover. Loud volume is not needed to get the point across.
focus of the music is on the interplay between the musicians and the range of dynamics that they
create. The ensemble arrangements are uncluttered and individual playing is never busy. Comess
and Givens lay down simmering, bouncy grooves as well as delicate accompaniment. Daugherty is
an economical and very expressive soloist.
The songs on New York Electric Piano are a nice blend of funky tracks with smothering
grooves, along with very melodic pieces. Pat uses the various tones of the Rhodes to set the mood
of the pieces: ranging from the urban cool of "Space Travel" and "Last
Soldier" to the pensive
melodies of "Hidden Path" and "East Village Buffalo Puppy." "I'll Take
The Apple" just begs to be
played when you're driving on the open road. The acoustic piano takes you on a ride with the funk of
"Democrazy." And "Blues In Orbit" (which reworks the chord progression of
"Space Travel") is a
blistering jazz workout that features a brisk walking bass line by Givens and a tasty drum solo by
Comess. Other highlights on the CD are "So Be It" and "Dreamboat."
New York Electric Piano has been hoggin' disc space in my CD players. Looks like it's
gonna stay for awhile... and that's a good thing.
For more information, visit
~ Rod Sibley