Thollem McDonas: piano
Call me naïve, but if I read a line by Thollem McDonas stating that he considers this concert – recorded two days before the date of this writeup – one of the best ever performances of solo piano he has given, my tendency is to trust those words. This leaky historian has not blanked out the gleaming light bulb appearing many years prior, as soon as the first CDs featuring the nomadic pianist began to grace his auricular membranes causing enthusiastic responses. In the 42+ minutes of this set, McDonas shows the numerous subfigures of his time-honored improvisational manner, which comprises baffling forms of extemporaneous classicism defined by latitudinarian harmonies. Constructions grounded on diagonal patterns, mercurial arpeggios, inside-the-box curiosity, muscular bashing when necessary, even hints to a somewhat romanticist serenity when the waters calm down. No signals of impatience whatsoever, despite the occasional appearance of a crystal clear franticness; everything is conceived and realized simultaneously, at once expressing total concentration and indomitable heterodoxy. Year upon year of experiences with variegated species of fellow improvisers have not obstructed the path to a fluent soloism that never ceases to find us eager to translate its inherent motivations and designs. McDonas positively stands against stylistic apartheid, unwilling to conform to the kind of obsessional purism frequently altering a genuine radical’s impartiality. The man’s receptiveness to all kinds of suggestions transforms innumerable impulses into distinctive shapes and traces, occasionally disclosing unexpectedly sharp canines.