‘Trips for Piano’ Album By Martin Graff

An elegant, sophisticated sensibility radiates throughout the colorful chords of Martin Graff’s “Trips for Piano.” The emotional outpouring he demonstrates feels riveting. Impressionistic at certain moments, the defiant nature of the compositions feels akin to the grandeur of Chopin’s output, with the melodic shifts adding to this undeniable beauty. He keeps an impressive range going from near-silence to gorgeous clusters of notes. Rhythms have a pastoral bliss, for these structures possess a living, breathing quality. Decay is an inherent part of the sound, as Martin has no issue letting the space around the notes have plenty of time to explore a topography. Thus, all the ups and downs of the mood make the album work best when taken together as an entirely cohesive whole.

Gently opening the album and setting the tenor for what follows is the gradual shifts of “Prism.” “Into…” has this thoughtful presence. He starts with the delicate, fragile high notes as the rest of the work seems to stage this dialogue with the lower register, all of which have a stately grandiosity. The patterns of “Sativa” go for an approachable sweetness. Elements of contemplation enter the equation on the journey of “Meditative.” On “Laura,” things feel like a conversation, especially in the latter half of the piece. A sense of the dramatic rise of “After.” Nods to Debussy’s work appear in the tender tones of “Flowers Open.” Ending things on a high note is the reflective finale, “Sonare.”


Martin Graff is an exceptional player on the powerful “Trips for Piano.”