Ed Clute • Shadows on the Moon

Ed Clute’s relationship with this paper goes back about as far as is possible. He was profiled in our very first issue, our publisher, Andy Senior, wrote the liner notes for his hit album, 2017’s A Summer Night’s Magic, and that album featured in my very first column of reviews. All that press on our fledgling website sent a flood of the curious our way when a video of Ed Clute playing “Sweet Georgia Brown” went viral, garnering millions of views and inspiring people to learn more about the genius at the piano.

It was well before that overnight success (of the kind decades in the making) and an appearance on America’s Got Talent that followed, that Mr. Clute returned to Rivermont to record the tracks that appear on Shadows on the Moon. Released this year these gems were recorded in late 2017, the same year A Summer Night’s Magic was released. I am uncertain why this album was held off until now, it certainly isn’t the quality, I have been enjoying this record since December, having received a copy before its release this spring.

Red Wood Coast

Somehow anticipating his appeal to a broader audience the album includes a few widely known popular hits, opening with “When You Wish Upon A Star,” and hopefully that accessibility will trigger new public attention.

Rivermont squeezes 27 tracks on the disc because most barely break two minutes and yet each feels like an experience, a concentrated evocation of moods. The notes describe it as music that is like “aspirin” for your worries and that is how the album has served me over many months as winter snow turned to summer heat. Bryan Wright, in his liner notes for the album, says these songs are Ed Clute’s “lifelong companions,” many of us will feel the same way about them.

There is an attempt to connect all the tracks with a moon and night theme; “Shadow Waltz,” “Russian Lullaby,” “Midnight, The Stars, and You,” “In the Still of the Night.” Amid the melancholy there is joy, “Dream a Little Dream of Me” had me almost dancing. The standout track for me is “Deep Night,” he pulls more depth from the title as a piano solo than most bands can with these slight emotional catches that sound almost like they will jump to a happy rag. Every time I play the album that track jolts me into focus.

Hot Jazz Jubile

Clute’s playing is straightforward, with beauty and flourish, unbridled skill but not overt showiness when it isn’t needed. Arranging on the fly he stays close to the melody and lets the music speak. Your full attention is rewarded, your troubles soothed in empathy for the human experience as conveyed by the immortal classics. This is even more remarkable since many of these titles are usually supported by lyrics to gain that resonance.

Now 80 years old, Ed Clute was recorded for this album at home on his 1912 Mason and Hamlin Grand Piano, surrounded by his immense collection of 78s. A video of him testing out the piano at a B & B after tuning it brought him briefly into the homes of millions. The true fans of his classic piano style will want to bring this album into their homes and spend some quality time alone with Ed Clute at the piano.

Shadows on the Moon
Ed Clute

Joe Bebco is the Associate Editor of The Syncopated Times and Webmaster of SyncopatedTimes.com

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