The Truth About Hollywood – Brian Haas
Hyena Records 9333
As a musically-inclined Oklahoman, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey's Brian Haas is in good company (Flaming Lips) and bad (Hanson!). But on his new record, The Truth About Hollywood, he’s in no company at all.
Hollywood, out now on Explosive Records, is a solo piano tour de force that finds the notorious Jacob Fredder back at square one: alone with 88 of his closest friends.
And any number of companions in spirit. Thelonious Monk contributed four tunes to this set (a manic "Rhythm-A-Ning" opens up the disc), and Fred drummer Jason Smart volunteered his "As It Will Be." The combined presence of Howard Dietz and Arthur Schwartz is felt, too (they wrote "Alone Together," last heard on Slow Breath, Silent Mind).
And, not to be outdone, "Lola & Alice" makes an appearance. The delicate Haas composition (the only one on the record) receives a brief, animated reading before the fleet-fingered pianist dives head-first into "As It Will Be."
But the real sparks fly when Haas jams out on songs by The Moment. Two long improvs (the title track wraps it up around the twenty-minute mark) round out this set, and they're full of what you'd expect from a pianist of Haas' ilk and facility: tense moments, gorgeous, consonant passages, sizzling chops and innate compositional skill.
All you could ask for, really. The Truth About Hollywood is a solo piano enthusiast’s wet dream: it’s Monk, it’s Hines, it’s Art Tatum on crack. Go pick it up.