Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dan Trudell Plays the Piano

By Ric Bang
Buy CD: Dan Trudell Plays the Piano

A lot of good musicians never stray far from home, yet make a solid living playing near where they were born, or grew up, or moved to and settled later in life. The groups with which such musicians perform are often referred to as “territory bands.” 

Dan Trudell is just such a guy. He was born in Michigan, began his musical studies on the organ at Western Michigan University — with a short stop on the tuba — and transferred to North Texas State, where he majored in piano. During his early career, he made a living playing on cruise ships. He ended up in Boston, formed his first trio, then moved to Chicago where he played with Sabretooth, the Chicago Jazz Orchestra and the B-3 Bombers.

Deciding that the Midwest was his favorite part of the country, Trudell settled in Wisconsin’s Lake Geneva resort area: close enough to Chicago and Milwaukee to facilitate playing there on occasion. He’s best know as an organist, but lately has returned to piano. This is his first album on the latter instrument.

The session features his trio — Matt Wilson on drums, Joe Sanders on bass — performing songs either written by, or associated with, famous pianists. The package also includes a couple of Trudell originals.

It’s interesting that his organ “style” is evident in his piano chops. He often plays chords, rather than single notes, which are done with “trill” fingering; this tends to “fill” the tonal spaces, much like an organ would. That said, it all swings quite nicely.

Since Trudell obviously has found his comfort zone, and is unlikely to stray far from it, he isn’t likely to become a well-known performer; that said, I’m sure he’ll keep the territory natives happy. I’d love to have a club close enough to enjoy artists like Trudell, at the mere price of a short drive.

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