Downbeat 4 STARS

 

Perhaps the prettiest of the offerings reviewed here is Bells Of Earth by Patrick Godfrey. The opening bars of Tolling with their juxtaposition of close-interval chords at the extreme top and bottom of the keyboard and their repetitive staccato figures reveal an affinity for Keith Jarrett, while the more open harmonies and heroic melodies of later sections recall Aaron Copeland's piano music. Romanza, a wistful waltz composed of delicately spun accelerando phrases, is romanticism at its most evanescent. The pianism is precise, the touch classical rather than jazz. Two four-movement works, called First and Second Quartets define the scope of Godfrey's classical influences. Copeland is most evident in the First, the third movement of which sounds a lot like El Salon Mexico, and the 12 tone tradition dominates the Second, which is the record's most impressive composition because of the effective tension developed between tonality and atonality, a tension also employed ( we shall see) by Marilyn Crispell, whose music is otherwise very different from Godfrey's.

 

 

Cadence February 1984

 

Patrick Godfrey is a young  pianist-composer from Canada whose credits include studio work with Canadian artists such as Bruce Cockburn and Murray McLauchlan and composing scores for films. Bells Of Earth is his second solo work and the first to feature strictly acoustic piano. The music is classically oriented with inspirational nods to Bach and Steve Reich. In comparison to other solo pianists, his music seems more directed than the wanderings of Keith Jarrett and livelier than George Winston's quiet compositions. I especially like the rhythmical movement in several of the works. "Memoriam" is as far from a dirge as the title might lead one to believe-the piece sounds more like an ode to life. Godfrey's fingers dance with an unabashed glee through some of the passages. "Sweet Bells" has a carillon feeling, the right hand creating a pealing, round-like figure. The music is not dry or emotionless and , although the pianist possesses great facility, his melodies are clear, not cluttered. I've received and reviewed many solo piano LPs over the past two years but none are as distinctive as "Bells Of Earth". Recommended!  Richard B. Kamins

 

 

Toronto Globe and Mail

 

For anyone save possibly Keith Jarrett, the fusion of improvisation to classical form that Patrick Godfrey achieves so successfully here is a kind of willed obscurity. Musically, it's a no-man's land; while Godfrey, a Toronto composer and pianist is hardly lost "in" it, he should not be lost to it.

Keith Jarrett is a useful point of reference, and an inviting point of comparison, but Godfrey deserves better treatment-his approach to solo piano is his own, refreshing for its mixture of forethought and spontaneity. His pianistics are impressive in their clarity of execution, his attitude is generally celebratory, and the range of his investigations is both boundless and discreet. The classicists might consider this naive, given the underlying theme of his writing here-the tolling of bells. The jazzers, on the other hand, might call it overly formal. Nevertheless, there should always be room for musicians with Godfrey's sense of personal direction. The artist as advance scout, as it were. Mark Miller 1982.

 

 

OP magazine.

 

A number of reviewers have compared Godfrey favorably with Keith Jarrett; however, I find Godfrey  to be a much more interesting pianist.

Godfrey's compositions are marked by a naive, graceful quality that is often associated with Jarrett, but his works are more thought out and structurally well planned. Unlike Jarrett, he does not rely on relentless, boring ostinatos or catchy but trite hooks. Instead, his pieces are more complex, though never confused. He allows himself plenty of opportunity for improvisation which often sounds almost pre-composed, a definite strong point.  Dean Suzuki. September-October 1983.

 

 

Montreal Gazette March 1983

 

Godfrey's Bells is a place of refuge.

 

It is a still quiet place frequented by Toronto pianist Patrick Godfrey in his wonderful solo LP Bells of Earth. This long waited followup to 1980's Ancient Ships does more than confirm the promise of that fine record. It establishes Godfrey as a pianist and composer of the first order, one who can stand easily with Jarrett, Corea, and other masters of, shall we say, the new classicism. Godfrey's work is a refuge in troubled times.

John Griffin.

 

Toronto Globe and Mail review of Toronto International Festival

 

The pianist Patrick Godfrey closed the night with a short reprise of themes from his latest recording, Bells Of Earth. It is a sparkling work, and Godfrey once again managed to bring it to life with all its dazzle. His piano technique has remarkable clarity, and his rhythmic sense is hard and sure. His shifting themes created a striking musical effect-something akin to a crystal winding and unwinding in bright sunlight, sending off flashes and colors and wonderful patterns in all directions with splendid unpredictability.

 

 

Keyboard August 1983.

 

A somewhat quirky but fascinating solo piano record-Jarrett-like ecstasies plus some minimalism and folk piano influence.