|Music for Meditation?
by David Fujino August 2006
The notion or fact? that creative music is a spiritual experience is surely shared by most musicians and attentive listeners.
But in Progression Meditation, a solo piano CD of nine compositions by Glen Halls, the meditative aspects of music get foregrounded while the rhythmic variety and general imaginativeness of jazz gets consciously downplayed.
Halls' strongly Romantic and Impressionist compositions and improvisations do not feature 'technical' fingerwork. They waft about as mostly slow tempo vamps/pedal points largely in the service of the production of overtones.
The composer/player's introspective immersion in veils of overtones is at its most evident in the title track, "Progression Meditation". Offered as a written 'classical composition' which clocks in at 21:12 this piece, however, sounds rather similar to other pieces in the CD because of its unremitting slow tempo and the characteristic repetition of its seed rhythmic figures. There are, however, clear register shifts and light harmonization of its five-note and six-note figures, and this truly comes as a welcome breath of fresh air.
But even in those compositions which have a more distinct jazz quality note the right hand ruminations in "Sue", the ever so slight Gospel hints in "Slow, True", or Phil Dwyer's rhythmically-tonally-texturally varied soprano saxophone soloing in "Fleeting Thoughts" there's a tonal and emotional sameness to the music.
And in those compositions with tribute-like titles "Sue", "Gillian", and "Edward" the sense of a sorrowful lament for loved ones, family, friends and associates, is inescapable; and "Regret" I have to say, what a title just further adds to the downbeat solemnity of Halls' work.
The often slow-moving nature of meditative/spiritual music may have been captured in this recording, but so has Halls' close engagement with the sound of his own singing, to the detriment of sharing his music with a listener.
Music to meditate by? perhaps, but it never raised the consciousness of this listener.