by Anne Carlini
| Title – ‘Sunday at Pilars’
Artist – Chris Rottmayer
For those not in the know, Chris Rottmayer is a jazz pianist and composer living in Madison, WI. Chris grew up and began playing in Columbus, OH, spent 20+ years building a successful career as a musician in Orlando, FL, and moved to Madison in 2018 to complete a doctoral degree in piano performance at UW-Madison.
Rottmayer’s third album Sunday at Pilars, released November 13th, 2020 is comprised mostly of American Popular Songbook standards and jazz tunes, and was produced in collaboration with Pilars Martini and Walt Hubbard, with the album featuring quartet, trio, and solo piano tracks.
The tracks are flavored in a decidedly straight-ahead fashion, with a nod to the shuffle grooves and swing feels of the classic Hammond organ groups, only on piano.
This vibrantly atmospheric album opens with the gently frenetic ‘Meteor’ which is followed by the laid back and dreamy pairing of ‘Weaver of Dreams’ and ‘Skylark,’ with the mid-tempo lushness of ‘Mamacita’ up next.
The pace slows down again for both the nine minute ‘My Foolish Heart’ and one of my own personal favorites, the simply heavenly ‘Emily, which are in turn backed by the subtly perky ‘The More I See You’ and the hipsway of ‘Nostalgia In Times Square.’
Next up is the orchestrated magnificence of ‘Trocadero’ which is followed by the quietly passive mood of ‘Waltz For Julia,’ with the album rounding out on another seven minute cut, this time the swing set of ‘Cherokee,’ coming to a close on the short, but very sweetly flirtatious melodies found within ‘Break Blues for Pilar’
A studio recording, Sunday at Pilars replicates the vibe of their Sunday gigs at Pilars Martini, in Winter Garden, Florida, where this particular band performed there regularly on Sunday afternoons between 2015 and 2018.
Chris Rottmayer- Composer, Piano