This was a very ambitious solo piano project by Richard Carr. Recorded over a six-month period, some of the pieces were written out and composed while others were improvised on the spot. Presented without edits to maintain the integrity of the moment the pieces were recorded, there is a very “live” feel to “An American Quixote”. With titles that include “An Encounter With the Unknown”, “Quixote’s Confusion”, “Disillusionment and the Unraveling Mind”, this CD is not full of sunshine and daisies, and some of it is quite turbulent. Most of it is very dark and many of the pieces are discordant and without a regular meter. This follows the theme of the album and the various titles of the music. I would not recommend “An American Quixote” to someone looking for music to daydream or meditate to. Carr has a very “big” playing style, and many of the pieces have large octave runs and crashing chords.
My favorite track is “The Giants of Fear”, which is pitch black in feel. Much of the piece is played in the deep bass of the piano with a menacing beat that brings out feelings of dread and anxiety. A middle section goes into the upper registers with an “agitato” approach, and then travels back into the deepest bass. This piece can cause chills – very effective! The title track is also very effective. The feel is lighter than the pieces that follow, but still there is a feeling of apprehension as well as of hope and optimism. This is probably the most pleasant and comfortable piece on the CD. The closing track, “Resolution to Continue the Search” is gentler and is one of a few of the pieces that I would call soothing (“Love for the Lady” is quiet but also very dark – definitely not a Jim Brickman love song!).
I have to say that this is not a CD I would choose to relax to. It is, however, a fascinating development of a story set to music. It is available from Richard Carr’s website (www.richardcarr.com), and Amazon.com. – Kathy Parsons, MainlyPiano.com
“One of the best journeys I’ve ever taken without leaving home is listening to An American Quixote. Even if you choose not to close your eyes, you will still find your thoughts and mind wondering to new and peaceful places. What a way to think—per chance—dream. I am only sad when the music stops, but then I either replay or will transfer to Fogland or Through the Mind’s Eye—in either case the travels begin anew to yet different roads in my own imagination.” – Don Wolff, KMOX Jazz, KMOX Radio, St. Louis, MO
On An American Quixote, Richard Carr’s new release, his piano is in its finest form to date. On his third release we see Richard becoming a seasoned talented pianist. He continues to polish his skills and grow into new areas. On his first release, Through the Minds Eye we saw the free form impressionistic style that he has come to be known for. This is a style that is heard in better George Winston, Michael Jones and more recently William Watson releases. On his second release, Fogland, Richard grew into a major force in world of piano music. This was visible in his tremendous airplay received on numerous radio stations. Now with the arrival of An American Quixote, the complete Richard Carr has arrived. His impressionistic side is still there – but there is more, so much more! On Fogland he discovered a romantic side with the song “Sonoma Coast Sunset”. On his new release he explores his romantic side even further. The other side that has appeared on this release is his classical side. Although touches of this have been evident in the past, it has never stood out like it does on this one. This could very well be one of the best piano releases of 1999. It becomes better with each listen and the listener finds more to love with each listen. I have always discovered the best music is the music that does not give you everything on the first listen but gives you more and more with each time. The time has arrived when some big label says Richard this is great music and we want you on our label. With the help of a large label, Richard Carr will become a name to be mentioned along with the best of New Age pianists. For now Richard will continue to wake up listeners across the world to the fact that great music is being created by Richard in New Orleans. – Erik de Jonge, Bep’s, New Orleans, LA
On this, his third release for the New Orleans-based Rec’D label, classical piano virtuoso Richard Carr has taken the Don Quixote legend and infused it with a distinctly American flavor.
Cervantes’ hopelessly romantic hero is the inspiration for this solo sojourn up and down the keyboard, as Carr treats each track as a separate episode in the hero’s life’s journey. In the manner of Quixote roaming the countryside seeking windmills and other allegorical adversaries to conquer for the heart of his idealized Dulcinea, Carr appears to absorb the Don’s romantic characteristics in the process of becoming his American counterpart. Tracks titled “The Journey,” “The Approaching Unknown,” “Love for the Lady,” “Pure of Heart,” “The Giants of Fear” and others symbolize the struggles we all experience as we go through our lives and Carr finds unique ways of expressing them. For example, “Love for the Lady” is played entirely with the left hand while “Veritas” (Truth) is played entirely with the right hand—traditionally the hand of justice and “Pure of Heart” is limited to the piano’s black keys. The tracks are an eclectic mix of fast and slow riffs that attempt to convey the message of each title and, taken as a whole, the pieces of the puzzle flow and fit together. None of the songs are real standouts and there is no single “showstopper” tune that anyone is going to walk out of the concert hall humming, but it’s good listening music nonetheless. – Dean M. Shapiro, Offbeat Magazine, New Orleans, LA (December,1999 issue)
Richard Carr, the composer/pianist of the wonderful album, Fogland, has done it again! As a matter of fact, many fans who have heard his newest release, An American Quixote, find it even more passionate than anything he’s done before.
Other opinions notwithstanding, this reviewer finds An American Quixote to be a tour-de-force of one man’s superb talent. Don Quixote was, of course, a mythical character, both noble and chivalrous, whose mission it was to improve the world–for the love a lady.
His desires, intentions and attempts (sometimes impossible) reflect the best of humankind. So does An American Quixote. Through 13 original compositions, Richard Carr does what he does best…offers wonderful soundscapes, filled with emotion, passion and purity…all marvelously played in these piano solos.
Here is music that reflects upon us…our good intentions, spirit, desire, confusions and frustrations. Surely there is a little bit of Quixote in all of us. Mr. Carr recognizes our attempts to achieve a better world, sometimes in the face of impossible odds.
So, by definition, Richard Carr has given us not just music and not just piano playing. No, Richard Carr has given us beauty and light and serenity. An American Quixote is a tribute to the human spirit that takes the form of beautiful music played by a truly gifted musician.
In this reviewer’s opinion, An American Quixote is an album that belongs in everyone’s collection. It serves to remind us who we are, and who we can be! – Richard Fuller, Senior Editor, Metaphysical Reviews
Richard Carr is the master of hypnotic piano magic and his third album, An American Quixote, twists and turns in a delightful series of scenes that invite you to lose yourself in reflection. Richard includes an enchantingly personal description of each piece within his cd insert, adding insight into the inspiration for each while whisking you away to the confines of your heart. An American Quixote was named after Cervantes’ nobleman Quixote, a man that lived in truth, striving to do good and live life in a respectable decency we should all aspire to. And like all Richard’s releases, his printed preface sets a tone that lingers throughout this selection of songs that apply to every heart, in some small to monumental way. While the title track dances through upper scale minors into inspiring major chords that blanket in a calming coolness, “The Journey” trips up and down a scale of minors in a dreamy repetition that builds upward and falls slowly downward in an eager yet melancholy searching you can’t help but feel. “The Approaching Unknown” keeps a central bass theme while scattering atop the scale in dark, mysterious repetitions drifting into “An Encounter with the Unknown”, which ascends from the lowest of piano tomes to a high, exhilarating series of pounding bass thundering and twisted minor triads giving way as though you’ve reached the eye of the storm. “Love for the Lady” is a special song Richard plays with his left hand alone and was inspired by Quixote’s untold love of a woman, which is as opposite as can be from the soaring leaps of “Freedom Flight Over the Countryside” with its beautifully repetitious downward scale progressions, reminiscent of The Who’s “Tommy”, where joyous triads eventually sway into a playful dance you cannot be anything but happy hearing. “Pure of Heart” uses only the five black keys of the piano for an eastern flair that dazzles in its unique melodic structure while “The Dance of Adventure” is a wild ride through an unpredictable chord twists into a silent film sound laced in a classical excitement that agains displays Richard’s vast variety of styles found throughout An American Quixote. “Quixote’s Confusion” has a dreamy series of half steps with an angelic yet unpredictable repetition throughout, leaving you misdirected and confused in an odd array of mysticism. “The Giants of Fear” is a powerful towering of the lowest notes representing to Richard the ugliness and evils of life with beautiful minor themes atop the upper scale for an octave different that is stressful and surreal, much like “Veritas (Truth)”, which delicately drifts through major and minor simplicity in a slow yet urgent tale, using the right hand only, as its high tones bring a sad and comtemplative lull that is more than welcomed. “Disillusionment and the Unraveling Mind” toys with you in a mysterious, even horrific spread of notes spanning the octaves in an unpredictable mesh of monsters, mayhem and madness, rich in repetition, while “Resolution to Continue the Search” combines sweetly somber piano dancing with a hopeful excitement for one moving collection of prized piano gems that would compliment the score of anyone’s life. Richard Carr’s talent lies not only in the beauty of his compositions but in what they provoke within. Find the Quixote in you and you too will be freed. – Melyssa Harmon, Get Fancy! (Fall 2000, Vol 1 Iss 4)
Return to An American Quixote album page.