Solitude: Solo Improvisations
BY GRANT GRAYS
Solitude has been a central theme of the human condition for the past fifteen months. With the planet under lockdown to temper the spread of COVID-19 we have all spent time alone in abundance. While loneliness has been an unavoidable feature of this moment, we have also been afforded the opportunity to explore the feature of aloneness. Aloneness does not connote the negative aspects of solo existence, but rather describes the joys of self-reflection and reacquainting oneself with who they are. Pianist and educator, Rich Pellegrin, offers a musical interpretation of this complex, nuanced ethos in his latest album, Solitude: Solo Improvisations. Recorded in an isolated studio on Whidbey Island and released in April, the album works as a suite that explores the varied emotions and textures of this distinct sense of isolation—one which allows the individual to explore the deepest parts of themselves.
Instead of traditional titles, each track is labeled “Improvisation” alongside the correlating number to its position on the album. The absence of names on this 25-track record allows the listener to interpret each movement by its own merits, rather than assigning preconceived meanings based on a title. Each track flows effortlessly into the next, reflecting the multifaceted and multilayered internal monologue which materializes in a state of solitude. Feelings of joy, pensiveness, melancholy, and even the familiar feeling of boredom (one we have all likely experienced over the last year to some degree) are given equal time and observation throughout Pellegrin’s latest composition. Just as the mind explores rhythm and repetition, or recession and rising as the mind, body, and spirit often does when in a state of isolation, so does Pellegrin’s piano excursions in this thoughtful and grounding study.
Maya Angelou observed that, “In the silence, we listen to ourselves. Then we ask questions of ourselves. “ Pellegrin invites the listener to do just that—to turn the mind inward, reflect on the many modes and meanings of our own solitude, and to examine and marvel at how it feels to exist within the self. A Solitude: Solo Improvisations Volume II is on the horizon, to which fans can keep up with Pellegrin and the journey to the new album at richpellegrin.com.