Picks and Pans Review: Speechless

updated 10/10/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/1988 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Liz Story

Story studied at Juilliard and later with pianist Dick Grove. Her marvelously lissome performance and compositional style place her right up with Keith Jarrett and John Jarvis. All three, in distinct ways, have mastered a modern solo-piano language that blends varying elements of jazz, pop and classical music. Speechless, essentially recorded live with two microphones, is the simplest and most immediate sounding of Story's four albums and her most inspired. It begins with the rare, sad beauty of Forgiveness. At first the piece carries a solid, brown-hued dignity that would make it an excellent sound track for a painting by one of the Flemish masters. While making only minor changes in the musical theme, Story gradually lightens the tone by degrees until, by the end, she is playing in almost a watercolor effect. Every listener could paint a different word picture of each of the seven pieces contained here, since Story's music is likely to evoke different mental images and feelings in different people. Rhythmically and melodically, there is a wonderful ebb and flow to her compositions. That fluidity almost suggests improvisation, but such involved, demanding two-handed exercises as Frog Park and Hermes Dance make it obvious that careful preparation went into refining their performance. Even the lightest piece, Back Porch, which is set up on folk and gospel lines, is ingrained with dark and complex moods. Story has an extraordinary gift for creating music that is at once thoughtful and moving. (Novus/RCA)

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