Casey Golden
4.5 stars
Reviewed by Barry O’Sullivan

This new album is a collection of simple, original melodies for solo jazz piano. It may not be jazz to you, but that depends on your ears and sensibilities. You may commune with the spirits of Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, or even Chick Corea. Whether these greats were looking for harmonies, ideas, precursors, anticipations, or even validation, they turned to Stravinsky and Mozart. Bach famously was an improviser, the idiom of the day. Golden’s musical roots emulsify with classical music. He has a solid performance and recording history in improvisation and belongs to a family thoroughly steeped in the jazz tradition, The Barnards. His newest recording, Smaller Worlds, contains elements from both musical spheres. The album has songs written at various times over the past ten years by Golden. While most of it was not composed for solo piano, throughout the first year of the pandemic and the ensuing isolation, Golden found all these chosen songs evolved to work best for him as solo pieces. There are delicate musical moments of contemplation on Recluse. There are playfully brief music interludes, Antique (Interlude) and Counter-Earth (Interlude), on a tack laced piano with a harpsichord effect. There’s also Golden’s superb pianism on Unmentionable, but what stands out primarily is placing honesty, passion, originality, and personal experience at the centre of his art.