Reviewed by: Susan Frances
Free form piano jazz is a model that Baltimore, Maryland’s esthetically jovial pianist Ray Jozwiak is proficient at playing. His piano keys prance gracefully, gallop happily, sprinkle gingerly, and stroll casually on his third CD Put A Finger On It, released by Bosky Dell and Sylvan Glade Records. The dotted notes and emotive strides have vents of peppy dynamics, complex intervals, and glittering showers that engage the listener aurally. Jozwiak’s piano verses interchange between a hard-bop jump to a cabaret jazz strut to a lounge pop coast using polka and waltz-doused rhythms. Anywhere he dabbles along the piano keys, he produces sonic glitz forming impressionistic images. Jozwiak does for piano jazz what Les Paul has done for guitar rock and blues and he does it with springs in his finger.
The jovial “Honolulu Harry” is filled with buoyancy and intricate twists and curls in the piano sequences. The rhythmic repetitive hook played by the left hand is complimented by the tangy, bouncy twists and curls of the alternate right hand set of keys laying out the melody. Jozwiak blends profound tones with melodic movements so his avant garde trysts are catchy and have a jingle-like pump. The hard-bop frames of “Cowboy Justice” stress the high and low points of the piano keys, while the Broadway show tunes lyricism of the piano keys on “Glorious Freedom” burrow classic jazz frills along the cheerful tempo.
The lounge pop style of the piano links on “Can’t Quit” have an extemporaneous quality segueing into the heavy cabaret jazz piano bops on “T-Tango” which brew excitable dynamics. The emotive strides on “Always You” have a joyful tingle and the sprinkling showers of piano notes on “No Regrets” string segments of invigorating steps.
Ray Jozwiak’s album has songs that you never thought you would like until you find yourself moving your body along to them. His songs are simply made by the piano but he takes the keys in places that you never expected they could go. There is an avant garde swagger and melodic esthetics in his music that makes it inventive and graceful and simultaneously raw and edgy. His recent album Put A Finger On It evolved from his debut album Chromatose and his sophomore disc Critic's Choice emanating his signature jubilance. Jozwiak was named Baltimore’s Best Lounge Pianist in 2005 by Baltimore Magazine. He is a regular at Baltimore’s local jazz clubs like 13th Floor Lounge-The Belvedere, The Kiss Café, and Gardel’s Supper Club. Jozwiak’s music has an intimate feel for jazz clubs and cheerfulness in the frolicking piano keys that liken them to cabaret jingles. His music makes audio impressions with inventive piano forms.