Solar Music 2022
A flowering talent from Florida outlines clarity of jazz experiment as a base of grace.
When producer Michael Franklin informed Chick Corea of his plans to have the fusion genius’ 1984 platter reimagined, it was too late for the erstwhile romantic, who would pass away one month later, to enjoy the idea of a 9-year-old girl returning “Children’s Songs” to this cycle’s eternal innocence. Being a piano prodigy, Winter Garden’s Abigail Huang just could see the wonder of the Corea classic, yet treating Chick’s pieces in any other way than allowed by her age didn’t seem possible. Still, what came out of the youngster’s sessions is a charmingly challenging, albeit brief as befits the little performer’s perspective, album focusing on the original’s defining quality: simplicity as beauty.
Rather predictably, Abigail’s reading of it lacks the Bartók-inspired depth of “Children’s Songs” – note the childish absence of the apostrophe in her record’s title – but Franklin-suggested Huang’s refusal to involve strings, alongside Bosendorfer grand, in the end reflects her desire to follow Corea’s guidelines and achieve wide-eyed sensuality which greater experience might impinge on. That’s why there’s no disappointment in the girl’s straightforward ripples whose apparent warmth will wrap the listener’s psyche from the start of “No. 1” to let go only once the deceptively elegiac “No. 20 Addendum” is dissolved in silence. And though Chick didn’t want to develop his numbers too much, Abigail’s applying jazz passion to the short, under-a-minute, “No. 2” and “No. 11” to move them further and to make them moving in emotional sense, whereas the elegant allegro and scherzo of, respectively, “No. 4” and “No. 6” as well as melodic variations of the gloomy “No. 8” or jovial “No. 9” should belie Ms. Huang’s years on this earth.
Balancing lucidity and intricacy on “No. 13” and compromising the solemnity of “No. 18” with energetic splashes of ivories may defy the composer’s intent; however, such tunes express Abigail’s ebullient personality in the brightest light.