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Face To Face Works by Bell, Chopin, Lux Lewis, Beethoven and Pinetop Smith Tom Bell (pf) www.tombellpiano.co.uk, 45 mins


“An intriguing disc which at first glance looks like it shouldn’t work, but does. Boogie-woogie and blues (by Bell and others) are pitted against well-known pieces by Beethoven and Chopin. The Chopin items plus the Beethoven Moonlight Sonata finale share with boogie-woogie a need for finger fluency and velocity, and Bell provides those in spades. Contrasts are finely drawn (between Bell’s Boogie an Chopin Op 10/1, for example).

Bell is finest in his own works, spewing forth froth like a malfunctioning barista. The frivolity is infectious, the atmosphere closer to a live performance than the studio; but underlying all of this is Bell’s rock solid sense of rhythm. Chopin’s Ballade No 4 hints at the depths Bell can achieve in the standard repertoire. Well recorded, this is something of a treat.” CC