Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Lou Stein's Introspection album from 1972

From the blurb on the back, written by Lou in 1972, New York:

The dilemma confronting the creative musician today: is it possible to fully express oneself creatively speaking within the boundaries of the real world he also lives in, further, where does he fit in with his individuality, into 'what's happening' in contemporary music now--
the music on this album represents what I am today... and the influence contemporary pop music has had on my background, which has always been jazz-oriented, as well as having devoted a number of years to the study of the classical piano..
therefore I have set forth here, introspectively, where I am at now...

Interestingly for us, there is an electric guitar (for which I see no credit) on the side b track Crosstown, which I will go further and say has definitely been influenced by the progressive rock that must have been quite big at the time-- these were the days of ELP filling stadiums worldwide, after all:

Wouldn't you agree that song is well worth hearing, if not multiply replaying?  Quite a dynamic and interesting composition, combining classical and rock effectively in a well-melded and sparkly amalgam.  I would go so far as to say it wouldn't have been out of place on a keys-prog band or Eurofusion band like Gong, Finnforest.

Unfortunately the next track, Good Humor Man, completely ruins the high expectations there on, which slowly lower as the side progresses to the bitter end, with track No Man Alone sounding like something from the Sound of Music played by Liberace in an estrogen-overdosed daze.

However, the first track (on the first side) which is a carefully constructed Sonata, really blew me away.  Its passages are well crafted, feature another mystery-played guitar, and alter in various ways to a really dramatic finale.  How I wish these were the pieces that were played at the Symphony Hall downtown, thereby perhaps guaranteeing more youth in attendance rather than the hospital's worth of post-retirement nonagenarians that seems to be the norm in those places!!  Of course he has broken from convention in replaying the first theme at the end, so the commercial aspects took it away from the rigors of classical form, not a crime of high treason I suppose.

A little bio on the man seems appropriate.  From wiki:

Lou Stein (April 22, 1922 – December 11, 2002) was an American jazz pianist.  Born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Stein's first major gig came in 1942 when he joined Ray McKinley's band. He also played with Glenn Miller when the latter was stateside during World War II.  After the war he worked with Charlie Ventura (1946–47) and following this became a session musician. He performed with the Lawson-Haggart Band, Benny Goodman, Sarah Vaughan, the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, Louie Bellson, Red Allen, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young, and recorded a few records as a bandleader. 
In 1957 he scored a U.S. Top 40 hit with "Almost Paradise", which peaked at #31 on the Billboard Hot 100. His cover of "Got A Match" made the Cashbox Top 60 in 1958. He played with Joe Venuti from 1969 to 1972 and later with Fred Phillips; he continued recording into the 1990s.

So certainly, his jazz credentials were impeccable.  On this record it's a shame he couldn't keep in tune with the progressive buzz he so clearly mastered on b1.  Nonetheless I am glad I heard this.


  1. lou stein introspection

  2. great Album
    first time o the blogosphere