By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Family Life
I gave rave reviews to pianist Bill Carrothers’ two most recent albums: 2010’ Joy Spring and 2011’s A Night At The Village Vanguard; both featured his piano/bass/drums trio. This newest release is different in several respects: It features him in a solo mode, performing mostly his own works; and while those earlier albums covered the complete tempo spectrum, ranging from ballads to flag-wavers, Family Life concentrates on pensive, melodic “tone-poems.”
When Carrothers isn’t touring, playing at jazz festivals or concerts, he’s at home in rural Mass City, Michigan, where he’s truly at peace. As he describes himself, “I’m a jazz piano player ... but I’m a wanna-be baseball player ... and an addicted snowmobile rider.” He’s also clearly a dedicated family man; consider some of this release’s song titles: “Our House,” “Northern Lights,” “Snowbound,” “Forefathers,” “A Night Out,” “Good Dog” and “News From Home.” (You get the idea.) The tunes are short, ranging from 3 to 5 minutes, and each one obviously relates to events in Carrothers’ daily life that make -- and keep -- him happy.
Family Life doesn’t swing like Joy Spring and A Night At The Village Vanguard, but the happiness Carrothers experiences in his personal life is contagious, and it will affect you. This is an excellent album, done by a master artist.