Organ and Keyboard Cavalcade Review by Ian King

Issue 356 – October 2017

(CD) Michael Sullivan – Light & Shade
Running Time 50 minutes – Price £7.95

Michael Sullivan - Light and Shade
Michael Sullivan – Light and Shade

If you live around the Birmingham area, you may be aware of Michael Sullivan as he’s been a freelance musician for over forty years, spending much of the 1970s and 1980s playing at various Mecca venues that are based around the Midlands. He is also a member of the Europa Jazz Band that was formed in the 1980s as a kind of ‘house band’ for the various Mecca Ballrooms, again in the Midlands, they now specialise in traditional and mainstream jazz. As well as all this, you may have seen him and his wife Elspeth performing as a vocal and keyboard duo at the late Brian Sharp’s breaks in Bournemouth.

Now semi-retired, Michael wants to do a few more organ and keyboard events so I suppose this CD is a bit of a showcase for what you can expect at his concerts, which judging by the mix of tracks, arrangements and playing on this recording, would be a lovely relaxing evening. Most tracks are played live without any overdubbing although some do have varying amounts of midi-sequencing in the background, but I would guess what you hear is what you’ll get in a live environment.

The CD features the Yamaha Tyros 4 as the main instrument with the Clavinova CVP-505 piano used on the three solo piano tracks; “Misty,” “Moon River,” and his own pretty composition “White Swans and Silver Geese”. The Tyros also incorporates the Reg Rawlings Blackpool Tower Wurlitzer sounds which are used on some of the tracks, including a great version of “Nola” and the “Our Love Is Here To Stay” medley which is free from any midi-sequencing. Oh, and a set of Elka bass pedals rounds off the live setup.

Highlights include a lovely laid-back slow latin version of “The Shadow Of Your Smile” with a nice sax lead and jazz improvisation section. The aformentioned piano solo “Misty” shows Michaels playing ability without any drums or backing (which is very impressive).

The lovely Carpenters hit “Goodbye to Love” has a fabulous sound with all the strings, choirs and fuzz guitar of the original while “Ave Maria” has a pretty feel with organ backing and symphonic strings lead. “Moon River” starts as a beautiful piano solo before a harmonica lead and light drums take over.

We have a couple of French Fancies with a medley of “If You Love Me” and “She,” with a solo piano arrangement of the first and a piano/organ version of the latter. The CD concludes with an epic version of “MacArthur Park” which is one of only two tracks on the CD which features more serious midi-sequencing (the other being the “Minder” theme).

This is enjoyable CD and does indeed have a nice mix of “Light and Shade.”

FULL TRACKS: Breaking Up Is Hard To Do / Laughter In The Rain • Nola • The Shadow Of Your Smile • Misty • Goodbye To Love • Ave Maria • Our Love Is Here To Stay / Love Walked In / Somebody Loves Me • Meditation • White Swans and Silver Geese • Among My Souvenirs • Isn’t She Lovely • Theme from ‘Minder’ • Moon River • If You Love Me / She • MacArthur Park.

Review by Ian King from Organ and Keyboard Cavalcade Magazine.