As with many great artist who passed away, occasionally older releases are reissued. This also happened with Emerson Plays Emerson. An album which the late Keith Emerson (2 November 1944 - 11 March 2016) originally brought into the world in 2002. Of course this marvellous keyboard player, musician and composer doesn't need any introduction on this website. Too bad he died much too soon. Today Keith Emerson would be have been 73 years old and probably many new albums would have seen the light of day. But that's not the case anymore and therefore am I very pleased with every remastered version of an album which has been out of print many years and a collector's item above all. Most of all if I don't have a copy of it myself. Which is the case with this album.
The re-release uses a fresh transfer of the master tapes by Abbey Road, a 2017 remaster, and artwork from the original art files. The booklet contains the liner notes in English, Italian and German.
According to Keith's eldest son Aaron the album had been inundated with requests for a reissue of Emerson Plays Emerson. He said that this album was a labour of love for his dad, so they decided to go with the original artwork to stay as true to the original as possible as they knew how happy his dad was with it. He would be happy with this re-issue.
All of the 22 tracks are recorded on the piano and are composed almost exclusively by Keith Emerson. An unconventional version of Gerhwin's Summertime or Ginastera's Creole Dance has also found room. He impressively shows that he is rightly regarded as one of the most interesting keyboarders and piano players of our times. It is not only his contribution to Emerson, Lake & Palmer that will make him immortal, but also his compositional diversity in his solo works performed here. Time will tell how important they will be to musicians in the future.
Keith Emerson plays every musical style imaginable here, but no progressive rock. You can hear boogie-woogie, blues, jazz and sometimes classical music. I will not get into details how every track sounds separately but I can tell you I loved them all the way. Even if I have a progressive rock heart. The real beauty of the grand piano is so majestic that you just have to embrace the music which he performs on this album. He did a great job most of the time on his own. Only a few times he got some help from other musicians on bass and drums. Just listen to the great duet with the piano master Oscar Peterson on Honky Tonk Train Blues and tell me if you don't like this special song. They are accompanied by his band which makes it even more spectacular!
Well, the Emerson fans will certainly enjoy the album anyway even if Emerson Plays Emerson is most of all a jazz record. I had no problem with it either. I loved it as much as I had when I listened to The Keith Emerson Trio album (see review) shortly after he passed away. No prog but still very impressive!
**** Henri Strik (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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