You’re in a very swanky bar in a very swanky hotel and you’re having drinks with friends. This is a new place, one you’ve heard much about, and every cubic foot of this place makes you feel better about who you are and what you’ve accomplished in order to sit here and order another $25 Moscow Mule. Suddenly one of your friends bolts up, looks off toward another corner of this joint and says, “Anyone else notice how fabulous this piano player is?” On the marquis board, you see the pianist’s name: Marcos Ariel.
This isn’t a updated version of Billy Joel’s narcissistic hit “Piano Man,” but rather a new kind of solo piano music that lives on the intersection of jazz, classical and pop standards. Marcos Ariel, a Brazilian piano man, isn’t exactly an ambitious young musician looking for his big break–this is, after all, his 33rd album. These are rare compositions that are vivid and melodic and instantly sound like covers, a phenomenon only a veteran can conjure.
This is the kind of piano music you’d hear in a very exclusive club where every single patron knows how fabulous this piano player is. This is Marcos Ariel, Jerry. Of course he’s fabulous.
Piano Blossoms is a relatively literal title for this album–these are pieces, songs really, that are inspired by various flowers in both Brazil and Los Angeles, where Marcos Ariel currently resides. The titles include “Passionflower,” “Plumeria,” “Calla Lily” and so on. This is not light and playful music, however, but serious and introspective. It’s as if you’re examining each blossom close up, and keep discovering new details as you zoom in. The melodies are actually the colors of the petals, in a way.
I’ve been trying to frame these December reviews as potential holiday music for those who can’t stand holiday music, but Piano Blossoms is more ideal for the upcoming winter. We’re talking about the quietly illuminating music that usually appears in the 2L Recordings catalog this time of year. You might listen to Marcos Ariel and his performance here and think it’s something beautiful that’s designed and built to float effortlessly through the rooms of your home, but there’s a lot more here to consider. Dreamy, alluring and recorded beautifully.