A departure for Laurance this may be, but in taking the plunge the pianist has been able to retain all the traits of his earlier collaborations and set them afresh and produce music that has broad appeal.

ACT 9059-2

Bill Laurance – Piano, Fender Rhodes Mk8, Osmose Expressive, Prophet 6;
Rory Storm – Conductor
Violin 1: Simmy Singh, Katie Foster, Cleo Annandale, Mateus Dandalo;
Violin 2: Didier Osindero, Helena Logah, Eleanor Shute, Chloe Hayward;
Viola: Rosamund Hawkins, Sophia Dignam, Nadia Eskandari, Emily Davies;
Cello: Polly Virr, Awen Blandford, Reyan Murtadha, Lucy McLuckie;
Double Bass: Marcus Vinicius, Alice Phelps;

Recorded at Blueprint Studios, Manchester on the 21st, 22nd & 23rd of September 2022

Following on from the duo album for ACT with Snarky Puppy bandmate, Michael League, pianist, keyboards player and composer Bill Laurance delivers up something completely different for his leadership for the label.

Teaming up with the incredible 18-piece string ensemble, The Untold Orchestra, the pianist has opened up his musical imagination and placed his melodic compositions in panoramic setting that is quite sumptuous, yet remarkably restrained.

For all the grandeur of the strings on the opening title track, Laurance never loses sight of his own melody and ensures that it does not become lost. Instead, the music rises and falls with glimpses here and there of the piano waiting in the wings. When it does emerge, the pianist opens up the composition as the Untold Orchestra take a backseat and the tension is allowed to build, and the dialogue between string and piano ebbs and flows.

This contrast and relationship between orchestra and piano is not so much as exploited but permitted to flourish. ‘Before the Sun’ appears to break free of any constraints and is a superb piece for Laurance’s touch at the acoustic instrument to come to the fore. This sense of beauty and lyricism is also captured on ‘Lyra’ that makes space for poignant statements from both piano and violin.

Prior to that is the equally gorgeous ‘Above All’ and Laurance is not shy in coming forward and totally dominates the piece with some excellent and forthright improvising, and it is this blend of orchestration and improvisation that can often be precarious balancing act that Laurance has got right.

There is room in the music for rhythm and grooves to be allowed evolve and settle, and The Untold Orchestra handle such moments with aplomb. It appears that it was Laurance’s intention form the outset to endeavour to create a strong and rhythmically charged ensemble music without the use of drums and percussion and to this end he has succeeded magnificently and without compromise and closes the album in fine style with ‘The Right Time’.

A departure for Laurance this may be, but in taking the plunge the pianist has been able to retain all the traits of his earlier collaborations and set them afresh and produce music that has broad appeal.