Gentle, happy, bright, piano musicians and songs, spotify edition
August 3, 2019 8:16 AM   Subscribe

Question - I really like piano music, find it very soothing, but the limited collection of piano artists I know are on the melancholic side of what I want to listen to right now (or at least part/most of their repertoire is). SO - what are your favorite non-sad, instrumental, piano songs and artists?

Functionally, I'd really like some instrumental piano music that is on the more "happy side" - bright, friendly, happy, maybe not necessarily upbeat, but at least not melancholic/wistful/mournful. Ideally, I'd like to find a set of songs, artists, and/or playlists that I can add to my own spotify playlist, and as a bonus it will generate a more bright, less mopey algorithm of piano music for me for the future too.

My one big qualm about Spotify so far is that once I've listened to one type of music/artist, results are skewed in that direction for the forseeable future. So far on my account, I've listened to Erik Satie, Arvo Part, Debussy, Chopin, etc. which is great, I like it all, except now I seemingly don't know how to/can't find any more upbeat piano tunes, only slower and more melancholic type songs/artists.

Related music that I know I like :
- Debussy suites
- Chopin nocturnes
- Beethoven string quartets & similar instrumental classical string music
- Jazz (not sure what sub-genre it's called - but think like, Kamasi Washington)

Things we can rule out:
- general classical stations/playlists (specific songs would be fine!)
- modern piano cover playlists (specific songs would be fine!)

Thanks in advance!
posted by seemoorglass to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Vince Guaraldi
posted by phunniemee at 8:33 AM on August 3, 2019 [6 favorites]

Wim Mertens? Admittedly he also sings (syllables rather than words) but The Fosse is very soothing.

Now, some people just hate free jazz, but what about Cecil Taylor?
posted by Frowner at 8:34 AM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Eugen Cicero
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:57 AM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

You might enjoy Ehren Starks. He has three albums of instrumental piano on Spotify, I'd start with Lines Build Walls and The Depths of a Year. (Note that Depths is happy to me, but has a lot of cello and may read as wistful to others.)

Also check out Keith Jarrett, start with The Köln Concert.

Jukebox the Ghost's self-titled album has solo piano versions of all the songs, and they trend towards upbeat pop.

Does it have to be solo piano? If not, there's Dave Brubeck. Loads of great piano-driven tunes there.
posted by jzb at 9:01 AM on August 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

bill evans
robert glasper
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:54 AM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou is absolutely brilliant - I listen to her compilation from the Ethiopiques series all the time. As I understand it her compositions are based both on her European classical training and on traditional Ethiopian music which uses the pentatonic scale. A sublime mix!
posted by Lluvia at 10:16 AM on August 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

Jellyroll Morton
posted by jonathanhughes at 10:19 AM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

You might like Oscar Peterson and Ramsey Lewis. Both were/are exceptional jazz composers and musicians, and both have enormous catalogs to mine that span decades of music styles and associations with other fantastic musicians. (Ramsey Lewis is still alive and active in the Chicago music scene.)

Here are two of my favorite albums that I think really show off their gorgeous musicianship and arrangements, but YMMV:

The Oscar Peterson Trio - We Get Requests (1964)
The Ramsey Lewis Trio - The In Crowd (1965)
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 10:25 AM on August 3, 2019 [4 favorites]

Tommy Flanagan
Barry Harris

Both very lyrical jazz pianists, both seem very un-melancholic to me.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:29 AM on August 3, 2019 [2 favorites]

Harry Connick Jr. does a good job of ripping off popular jazz styles agreeably (controversial opinion) and digs into show tunes a bit. His first eponymous album is all instrumental IIRC, 20 and 25 have sparse fun-yet-schmaltzy vocals.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:47 AM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Scott Joplin.
posted by SLC Mom at 10:58 AM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yay! These suggestions are wonderful, thanks everyone. I'm updating a spotify playlist as we speak if anyone would like to see a curated collection of most of the suggestions above. I'll leave unsolved because I'm very open to more suggestions and will keep updating the playlist as more come in.
posted by seemoorglass at 12:32 PM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Michelle McLaughlin? Definitely unaccompanied piano, definitely not sad. I often let her tinkle on in the background for hours at a time. I don't know how good she would be for attentive listening.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 12:37 PM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh! I forgot Pamela Hines; and maybe Beegee Adair, who tends ever-so-slightly toward a less jazzy style.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:46 PM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

On the classical side of things maybe try (if you don't already know them) John Field's Nocturnes; Chopin's Berceuse; Liszt's Consolations. Certain late-18th-century music might also fit the bill: some of Haydn's & Mozart's Sonatas for a start.
posted by misteraitch at 1:51 PM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Try Gene Harris.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:58 PM on August 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Horace Silver is just perfect for this; the 1953 Horace Silver Trio record is a gem of bright piano. His entire 1950s-60s Blue Note discography is filled with great sounds but the trio stuff let's you focus on his brilliant, accessible piano.
posted by mediareport at 8:10 AM on August 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Oh, give Chilly Gonzales a try. I'm amazed that no one has recommended him already. He has three "Solo Piano" albums that are all really fantastic, and his "Pianovision" YouTube videos are so good. A few favourites: Othello, Kenaston, Bermuda Triangle (this is someone else playing his music, I think), October 3rd.
posted by oulipian at 10:16 AM on August 4, 2019 [2 favorites]

Mary Lou Williams, Hazel Scott, Art Tatum.
posted by soundofsuburbia at 11:37 AM on August 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

Andre Gagnon, of Quebec
John Sheard
posted by NorthernAutumn at 11:01 PM on August 4, 2019 [1 favorite]

If you like Debussy's suites (including the Petite Suite and Children's Corner), you might also like Ravel.

If you like Chopin Nocturnes, you might also like his waltzes, impromptus and etudes. Also, Schubert impromptus.

Similar to Beethoven string quartets: Haydn and Schubert string quartets

If you're looking for classical chamber music generally, Mozart has lots, as does Haydn.

Also, I find Bach soothing, so if you like Baroque, I suggest the Italian Concerto (1st and 3rd mvts, the 2nd is melancholy), English and French Suites, Partitas, Little Preludes... It's a mix of bright and happy with some melancholic. Also try Handel's keyboard suites.

If you like classical, try Mozart and Haydn piano sonatas. If you're into piano + orchestra, Mozart piano concertos (e.g. Jeunehomme 3rd mvt is really happy and energetic)
posted by foxjacket at 10:07 AM on August 6, 2019 [1 favorite]

Oh, a few more:

Ave Maria - Schubert arr. Liszt

Bach - Sheep May Safely Graze

Bach - Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring
posted by foxjacket at 10:26 AM on August 6, 2019

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