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Nicholas Bridgman – Wheel of Life

Oct. 13, 2015

If you’re looking for some feel-good, up-tempo, swingin’, kickin’, piano jazz, Nicholas Bridgman has to be your guy. One wouldnNicholas Bridgman Wheel CD’t automatically think of butt-kickin’, kick-up-your-heels-and-dance music with a cool, rather “quiet” style, but let me tell you: Bridgman has a formula so worth witnessing. His handling of the eighty-eights (and all other instruments heard here, by the way) with such soul and intensity is just what the C-jazz doctor ordered. With a David Benoit funky edge (when Benoit feels funky), Bridgman gets it done here on his latest release Wheel of Life. Full of jubilance, body, soul, and smokin’ jazz in such an unassuming manner, this is an album of superb character. So seductive yet funky to the ears, every track has a bit of solid spunk and generous, catchy melody.

Opening with a high-steppin’ bit of sunshine, Bridgman hands you an earful of sass and charm with “Spiral Staircase.” Oh yeah, feel this one. While you’re at it, feel and grove to the second and title track. Makes you want to grab a dance partner and just whirl around the dance floor.

Bridgman grabs many different subgenres of jazz and molds them into this customized thing that just seems to defy classification and simply works. For example, take a good listen to “Swingtown,” and you’ll see what I mean.

Straight-ahead piano jazz? “Planar Texture for Gloria” should capture your attention. If soul jammin’ is your thing, catch his old school boogie blues on keys called “Kickin’ It.”

In addition to his quality originals, Bridgman tosses in a couple of great covers, Luiz Bonfa’s “Black Orpheus” and Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island.”

So many moods, so many textures, all of superior quality. Here’s an album that should surely seize your “That’s it” moment many times throughout the release. Piano and keys on fire throughout the album, Bridgman again emerges as one of the finest pianists/keyboardists/multi-instrumentalists around in our genre. – Ronald Jackson