Album Review: Scarab from Wayne Alpern
Artist: Wayne Alpern
Label: Henri Elkan Music
Arranger/composer Wayne Alpern reimagines a selection of Beatles tunes with pianist Billy Test on his latest release Scarab from Henri Elkan Music. The emotion Test puts into melodies like “Eleanor Rigby” and “Hide Your Love Away” allows audiences to hear something new, something more intriguing about the compositions. His inherent sense of melodic versing is magical, choreographing seamless dances with the piano keys. His improvised twists and imaginative tweaks enhance the natural lyricism in the melodies, emphasizing poignant moments along the chord progressions that make the listener stop and take notice.
Alpern’s interpretation of “Yesterday” projects passion laden with a fiery urgency that’s comparable to one of Beethoven’s moments of unbridled intensity. The peaks and valleys scrolled along the dance emote strong, visible feelings. Test’s performance demands the listener’s full attention. His strokes are bold. His thoughts are perceivable, and his sense of melodicism illustrates a sophisticated palate.
Changing gears, “Norwegian Wood” is shaped with slow, meditative motifs, intimating a subtlety that depicts notes delicately tiptoeing across a sparse meadow. The springy tapping played along “Lady Madonna” is emphasized at key points, giving the melody a primal eagerness. Alpern’s re-evaluation of “When I’m Sixty-Five” has the keys evolving from well placed twitters to ragtime-style trots. The starlight resonance in the keys strolling along “Nowhere Man” elicit a reflective mood that lulls the listener into a deep retrospection.
It is not a far stretch to perceive Wayne Alpern as a modern generation Beethoven. Each arch in his phrasing, each twinkle in his notes, each ruminating measure makes a poignant statement. Alpern’s instincts for improvised verses and compositional integrity are worthy of praise. For listeners, Test’s playing seems magical.
Wayne Alpern – Arranger
Billy Test – Piano