SINGLE REVIEW: Romance (from the White Light Collection) by Tony Newton

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http://tonynewtonmusic.com/

Tony Newton is a composer and multi-instrumentalist with a fascinating history anda career in the music industry that spans over thirty years. After being somewhat of a child prodigy playing in orchestras, it was as a virtuosic bass player that he played on many classic Motown recordings as part of the legendary team of session musicians the  Funk Brothers. Tony can lay claim to playing on hits by Michael Jackson, Diana Ross & The Supremes and Stevie Wonder, amongst many others.

He also acted as musical director to Smokey Robinson and in his youth was the prize student of his bass tutor, the legendary James Jamerson (himself a Motown recording staple). He can also lay claim to being one of the creators of the Jazz-Rock-Fusion genre with Miles Davis’ drummer in the Tony Williams Lifetime. Since then he has developed his talents as a composer and even formulated his own acclaimed harmonic language which he calls ‘novaphonic sound’, which is based on quartal and quintal harmonics.

This piece for solo piano, Romance, follows on from his previous release Prophecy (which I reviewed very favourably back in August) and is also taken from his album White Light Collection. After the tumultuous drama of Prophecy this piece is more mellow and meditative as well as being infused with a deeply romantic vibe, as the title implies.

Once again, it has been composed in Tony’s unique ‘novaphonic’ style, beginning with a magical introduction based on quintal harmonies at the upper end of the piano. It then branches out into an instantly memorable and haunting melody, which is simple but highly effective and embellished by mellifluous ornamental runs in the right hand. The left is based mostly on low-end arpeggios that drive the music and add to the mood. Conjuring an intoxicating sound world, the music gradually casts a mesmeric spell on the listener across the five and a half minute duration of the piece.

Overall, this is another classic solo piano piece by Tony Newton. Musically, it feels as if Tony has landed on the perfect midway point between jazz and classical with the rich and exotic harmonies of the former combining with the accessible melodicism of the latter. His unique use of harmonic language also means his music stands apart, although I can’t think of another living composer working on his level. Tony Newton’s music is truly in a league of its own.

 

VERDICT = 9.3 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

Preview the White Light Collection HERE

 

 

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SINGLE REVIEW: Prophecy (from the White Light Collection) by Tony Newton

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http://tonynewtonmusic.com/album/wlc-preview-2/

Tony Newton is a composer and multi-instrumentalist with a fascinating history anda career in the music industry that spans over thirty years. After being somewhat of a child prodigy playing in orchestras, it was as a virtuosic bass player that he played on many classic Motown recordings and can lay claim to playing on hits by Michael Jackson, Diana Ross & The Supremes and Stevie Wonder.

If that isn’t impressive enough, he also acted as musical director to Smokey Robinson and in his youth was the prize student of his bass tutor, the legendary James Jamerson (himself a Motown recording staple). He can also lay claim to being one of the creators of the Jazz-Rock-Fusion genre with Miles Davis’ drummer in the Tony Williams Lifetime. Since then he has developed his talents as a composer and even formulated his own acclaimed harmonic language which he calls ‘novaphonic sound’, which is based on quartal and quintal harmonics.

This piece for solo piano, Prophecy, is taken from his album White Light Collection. The piece announces itself with some stentorian chords, then a swirling, saturnine melodic pattern emerges in a low octave, reminiscent of the last movement of Beethoven’s Appassionata sonata. Over this repeating figure, Newton then brings Bill Evans-style jazz into the mix with some exotic quartal harmonies in the right hand. The low octave melody is then doubled creating a fierce sense of momentum before it modulates to a different key.

The piece then develops with some incredible runs and ornaments in the upper octaves, which truly show the virtuosic level of Newton’s musicianship. Around halfway through the tempest dies down and a suspenseful section emerges, featuring some lush chordal voicings and arpeggios. This is what you would term a developmental section, which reaches a climax before recapitulating to the main theme to complete a compelling six minutes.

Overall, this solo piano piece is a tour de force by an artist who made his name as a Motown musician and has developed into a composer of real genius. He has found the perfect midway point between classical and jazz, combining the focused structure of the former with the adventurous harmonies of the latter. Prophecy is not just a compositional feat but also one of considerable virtuosity as a performance. Highly recommended.

 

VERDICT = 9.2 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

 

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