Grammy award winning artist Jim Beard is set to release his next album “Show of Hands”. Since his arrival on the New York music scene in the late 80s, Jim has accumulated a staggering array of credits. Composing for John McLaughlin and Michael Brecker, producing Grammy nominated recordings for Mike Stern, Bill Evans and others, performing on world tours with Wayne Shorter, Pat Metheny and Steely Dan, and recording in the audio and television studio with artists as disparate as Dizzy Gillespie and John Mayer.
His new endeavor is something most followers would consider as being very unique for Jim: a solo piano recording. Jim is widely known for his work in the studio and on stage with ensembles of great variety. From small to very large (orchestra) and from acoustic to electric. He is also known for entering “dangerous yet rewarding territories” musically on his previous solo outings (quote from Pat Metheny). So why a solo piano cd? Jim says: “This was the next thing for me to do that would feel a little bold and risky yet gratifying. Plus, there have been countless fans and artists who have been pestering me for years to do this.”
As can be expected from Jim, this album does not pidgeonhole itself into one bag. There are eight brand new compositions. Two full length songs and six Haikus (very short pieces). He also does piano versions of a few of his compositions previously released on other cds such as ‘The Gentleman and Hizcaine’ (Michael Brecker ‘Don’t Try This at Home’) and ‘Song of the Sun’ (Jim Beard’s solo debut). There is also an extremely popular 18th century society piece, a piece written to support a Shakespeare poem, a Wayne Shorter classic (‘Face on the Barroom Floor’) and a few standards. Regarding the ballads he recorded Jim says: ” I felt it was important to retain the clarity and beauty of the ballads I chose. So many jazz artists who choose to cover standards also choose to twist and distort them to the point where they become unrecognizable. If you’re going to do that, why not just write a new piece of music?” When asked how the feeling of making this album resembles or differs from his other studio outings he replies; “I’ve been a part of so many projects where groove and steady tempo were very high up on the agenda. Now, I love a great groove as much as the next guy but it felt very liberating to have the freedom to approach a song with or without that aspect. It is also fairly intimidating to play in such a naked and exposed way. Every little nuance seems magnified somehow and you don’t have that safety net of a group of musicians.”
“Show of Hands” is, in true Beard style, a collection of music that is imaginative, flows beautifully and is filled with extraordinary ideas. This cd not only showcases his ability to be a colorist with outstanding resolve but a pianist who has a formidable technique and is intimately in touch with the instrument