A Certain Kind of Album Recommendation
July 23, 2009 6:21 AM   Subscribe

Can someone recommend a jazz pianist CD for me that sounds like Seth Kaufman's Cascadilla?

I struggle a little bit with ADD. I'm easily distracted. One thing that helps me is listening to a jazz/pop/classical pianist named Seth Kaufman. For the last five years, I've listened to his albums on repeat daily and it helps me focus on the work at hand. Problem is, I'm officially sick of the albums, and have been for over a year, yet I can't find a suitable replacement. Problem is, I don't know what I'm looking for, because I'm not sure if the reason why Kaufman's music work is something idiosyncratic and unique to Kaufman, if it's that I'm looking for wordless jazz, piano music, etc. I've tried Coltrane, Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Charlie Mingus - all of whom I like - but they don't work. I ultimately end up listening to the music and thinking about other things, rather than using the music to help block out those distractions and focusing on my work. Kaufman somehow keeps me distracted by the music at a very topical level, which helps me focus on my work and be productive, but all other music in my catalog (particularly if it's music that I actually like to listen to when I'm not working) ends up making me sing along or just stop and listen.

So I'm soliciting album recommendations, and first just asking for albums that are in the same basic genre as Seth Kaufman. I have all of his albums (The Blue Light, Red Descending, Compartments, Circling Noon, and Cascadilla). Kaufman is not famous, but was a well-loved musician in New Orleans when he lived there. To call him jazz is probably misleading, and maybe that is why Coltrane, et al aren't working for me since his style is completely perpendicular to theirs. Kaufman's music is very emotional, but more in a pop style than a jazz style. When I'm listening to it, I feel like it's telling a story (even though it's wordless), and it's almost like the music is a sentimental love story. For instance, if this makes any sense, sometimes I could imagine some of his songs on a soundtrack to Pretty Woman or some other romantic comedy. Any recommendations?
posted by scunning to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: David Lanz?

George Winston?

Jim Brickman?

I think what you are looking for are albums of piano solo artists. The closest to background music that a jazz pianist has come (IMHO) is Vince Guaraldi. Most jazz pianists I listen to require a certain amount of attention and don't easily fade into the background.
posted by jeanmari at 6:45 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Check out Dean Arvidson and Liz Story as well. I used this music playing softly a lot as background music for students in corporate environments during group work time. It does work well as background music, is generic enough that no one is concentrating on the music instead of the conversation, but fills in the silences and gets people interacting. I used to use Mozart because of the research around the Mozart Effect, but would vary it with these other contemporary artists. Students liked it, that was good enough for me.

Some of the new age piano artists on the Windham Hill label might interest you.
posted by jeanmari at 6:53 AM on July 23, 2009

Roger Powell, who was the keyboard player in Utopia, recently released a solo piano CD. It's maybe a touch darker than Kaufman, but lovely.
posted by mintcake! at 7:33 AM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

As jeanmari pointed out, Liz Story is quite good. But I have a feeling you might really get into Bill Evans, who many consider planted the earlier seeds for this kind of music. Especially his "ALONE" album, which people of all kinds seem to come back to again and again. It is filled with much improvisation, of course, and Evans is by no means a "new age" artist. Keith Jarrett's "Koln Concert" is another classic.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 9:32 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

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