The translation of melancholy into music can be a beautiful thing in any genre. Jazz, with its focus, on improvisation (to varying degrees), allows an artist to explore the nuances of mood. A framework that gives way to in-the-moment rumination or flights of fancy can make for the most evocative of sounds.
Melbourne, Australia-based pianist Jeremy Woolhouse goes solo on The Persistence of Dreaming, presenting a suite-like set of original tunes remarkable for their brooding cohesion and memorable lyricism. For a musician who switched from trombone and didn't get serious with the piano until he was nineteen years old, the now thirty-something Woolhouse has developed an elegant sense of keyboard harmony to go with his engaging way with a melody.
Much of the set, including the opener, "Fictional Lives," is steeped in a sense of existential loneliness. "Song for Lisa" celebrates, with a subdued reverence, friendship and muse, while "The Third Person," with its hopeful and introspective mood, may be taking a look, from the outside, at the concept of existence. "The Optimist's Folly" explores a light-versus-dark dichotomy (darkness seems to win) with its spare delivery and a mood of beautiful and measured melancholy.
This is a ballad set, with the title tune rising slightly, tempo-wise, above that description. The pace, introspection, gentleness, cohesion, and subtle beauty brings to mind a European/ECM Records jazz aesthetic on this very successful solo piano outing.