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In Remembrance of: Benjamin Henry, Eva Burrell, Eric Paul Jackson, Bertha Smith, Leon Guitry, Jackie Hall
By Richard Henry on March 20, 2010

A New York native and Chairman of Jazz Studies at Houston Community College, Joe LoCascio has amazed audiences with his brilliant, creative compositions and performances. His influence and expertise has given many students a chance to succeed in the field of music. In Close to So Far that was released in 2002, represents one of the many recordings created by LoCascio. His melodic character is seemingly unlimited as it is transformed through the piano as a musical force. Releasing albums such as Marionette, In the City of Lost Things and Home, this album features Tim Solook on drums, Joe LoCascio on piano and John Adams on bass.

The first track Turn About begins with a patriotic anthem quality and quickly follows with the piano solo. There is emphasis in the piano notes that adds color to the overall music texture. LoCascio does not hide his virtuosity all the time. The temperament of his lines can have a comic nature to them, not to be confused with uncontrollable playfulness but he adds a lot of imagination to his music. LoCascio can add dance qualities into his phrases as well at times.

A chromatic inspired piano solo sets the tone at the beginning of the album’s third track Close to So Far. The piano solo is delightful and takes you on a pleasant journey and ride. LoCascio’s units of harmonious ideas are easy on the ears. His runs can be constant at times leading to another rich music idea. A number of chord components are added at one moment that add flavor and continuity leading to the bass solo. John Adams’s bass solo is as nicely done as the piano solo and really sings while the piano provides bouncing chords fitting for the passages. The amazing drum solo here by Tim Solook is a real monster here as the mood of the music changes to a darker atmosphere as if impending doom is near. The piece ends with a magnificent piano solo by Joe LoCascio.

A somber musical impression is felt in the seventh track Purgatory as the piano provides the expressive melody making you wonder as if someone looking out of a window. Variety is evident in this piece. After the bass solo, the vigor of the music is increased then subsides eventually into the solemn mood. One gets an inkling of someone dealing with something that is restraining them from experiencing the possible joy that exists in our own personal fabric of reality. You will not get fancy improvisation is this piece because it would not fit the nature of such a composition.

You get a nicely played piano solo that continues for a while in the ninth track A Goodbye Moment. I could hear a hint of traditional harmony at the beginning that provided the melody with a fitting support structure for what LoCascio was trying to do with this composition. The song starts swinging in an upbeat fashion kept together by the drums. The cymbals intensify at times giving surges of energy. This piece is definitely one that can be used as a way to honor those you care about.

A musical portrait is painted in Close to So Far. Joe LoCascio is very good at painting a scene in your mind with his music. I had the wonderful opportunity of conducting an interview with Joe LoCascio and his knowledge of his craft is astounding and his wisdom is something that anyone can learn from. His compositions are very inspiring as there is no visible end of his creativity. Music listeners should add this album to their library if they already have not.

Close to So Far
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