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The Sounding Board by R J Lannan
RJ Lannan is the reviewer for The Sounding Board.
Other reviews from The Sounding Board by R J Lannan:
  Into the Unknown by Joseph L Young, reviewed by Artisan Music Reviews on 10/26/2022
  FIRE by Sukha, reviewed by Artisan Music Reviews on 7/29/2022
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Keepsakes In The Attic
By Jeff Bjorck
Label: Pure Piano Music
Released 2/5/2016
Keepsakes In The Attic tracks
1. Afternoon Reverie
2. Returning Home
3. Mother's Hymnal
4. Grandad's Rocker
5. Unrequitd
6. Hearts Far Apart
7. Groom's First Waltz
8. Midnight In Moscow
9. Hope in the Heartache
10. Tryggare Kan Ingen Vara
11. Playing Catch with Dad
12. Justin County Clareof
13. Nana's Music Box
Remember When...
The first cut on Jeff Bjorck's latest album, Afternoon Reverie might have come about something like this:

It was a rainy Saturday afternoon and the house was empty. He was bored and decided to go up in the attic and look for those old baseball cards. Maybe they're worth a few bucks. He came upon the old cedar chest. It belonged to his grandparents and they've been throwing stuff in there for years. Yeah, there was a little dust and the odd smell of aged paper, but then realized he had found buried treasure.

So pianist Jeff Bjorck began writing music to commemorate all those memories that were kindled when he opened the chest. He found so much. All the black & white pictures with the serrated edges, the velveteen boxes and the old papers now yellow and just a little faded. His music makes all those memories come vividly alive for the listener with heartfelt compositions that are as warm as they are nostalgic. There is a gentle sensitivity to the music. Keepsakes in the Attic is thirteen tracks of contemporary piano music. Bjorck is very careful, very precise, but emotionally accessible.

Returning Home is a wonderful ballad and what a story it tells. It must have been after the Great War. He came home to a loving wife and promise of a good future. All those G.I.s did. The medals didn't matter. A hero does the right thing anyway. Jeff's song is an anthem to the return and the pursuit of normal and thank God for everything.

He found a few old loves letters in the chest. Several of them marked Return to Sender. He read them, reluctantly. They were private after all and it made him wonder what ever happened to that girl. The song Unrequited is a love story without an ending. But as he remembered something about his grandparents, just a little recollection, maybe the story did have an ending after all.

One of the best and most complex tunes on the album is Midnight In Moscow. It is literally, a long story. There is so much Russian flavor in the mix you can almost taste it. This is a thoughtful piece that speaks of overcoming obstacles and celebrating just a little. Russian people are very emotional and they take time to tell their tales and then drink to a hopeful conclusion. This was one of my favorites.

Tryggare kan Ingen Vara (Children of the Heavenly Father) plays like an old country church song. It is an 1850's Swedish hymn still sung in Lutheran churches today. Jeff's rendition is a wonderfully reflective instrumental and the poetry of the hymn is quite beautiful. It goes like this:

"Children of the heav'nly Father
Safely in His bosom gather;
Nestling bird nor star in Heaven
Such a refuge e’er was given."

You don’t have to be in right field to remember those hot summer afternoons in the back yard with papa. Playing Catch with Dad is a special father and son remembrance that Jeff has somehow transformed into a great piece of music. Not every dad plays catch, not every dad teaches how to ride a bike without training wheels, but every dad did something in your life that you can remember. I hope it was a great memory for you, too.

The closing piece is called Nana's Music Box and it sounds just right. He found that old music box and opened it up and nothing happened. He found the little fold up key on the bottom and gave it a twist or two. The little ballerina twirled and the music played. He thought of his grandmother, but when he looked in the mirror in the lid, he saw himself. It pleased him.

Jeff Bjorck started playing around age ten. Today he is a clinical psychologist, a researcher, a writer, and professor at Fuller Seminary's Graduate School of Psychology. So I guess that means he not only know what the memories are, but also why they are. He translates that meaning into some beautiful and thoughtful music. Family, faith and friends are a big part of the picture or maybe for Jeff, they are the keepsakes he found that day.
Rating: Very Good +   Very Good +
- reviewed by RJ Lannan on 5/28/2016
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