A Summer Night’s Magic, on Rivermont Records, is a set of piano solos by blind virtuoso Ed Clute, performed at his home in Watkins Glen, New York, on his own Mason & Hamlin grand piano. The biographical portion of the liner notes were adapted from a profile of Ed that appeared in the first issue of The Syncopated Times in February 2016. In those notes, we learn that Ed Clute was a child prodigy—but this disc is more a testament to a prodigious lifelong dedication to the art of making music.
Clute ventured as far afield as France pursuing his craft. He received formal training and expert mentorship into his fourth decade; his extensive classical studies and his formidable technique audibly inform his jazz playing. After fifty years of public performance, he continues to sit in with well-known bands and maintains an active calendar as a soloist. He is always seeking opportunities to share his music with new audiences.
Judging by his performance on this album, his eatery gigs must be much more than mere dinner accompaniment. I auditioned this CD at the volume of a piano being played a few feet away, and there were times that—had I been in a restaurant—I’d have dropped my fork. Though perfectly enjoyable as a well-chosen ambient pick, this album holds up to repeated and intent listening.
Clute’s stride style, influenced by and in the tradition of Frankie Carle, has an ensemble quality. Twenty-two tracks, most shy of three minutes, explore material both familiar and obscure; the cumulative effect is one of delight.
According to the Producer’s Note by Bryan Wright of Rivermont Records, these selections were not planned—and many were called by Wright at the recording session, allowing Clute to put his remarkable memory on display.
This album starts off slowly and builds. Once Ed Clute has brought you into his groove he gives it a little swing. Standout tracks are “Time on my Hands,” “A Garden in the Rain,” and “Just Friends.”
A Summer Night’s Magic is available through rivermontrecords.com.