CD Duration: 56.44 / Year: 2015
2015 release at the new Yamaha Clavinova CVP-609 and Yamaha EL-700, with Gareth Thompson on drums. The arrangements on this CD are largely taken from a show Michael co-produced called “Liberace Live from Las Vegas” where he recreated the arrangements of flamboyant showman Liberace’s famous recordings.
A Mexican Fiesta Medley: Espana / Spanish Eyes / La Paloma / The Mexican Hat Dance
Change Partners *
The Beer Barrel Polka
Classical Favourites: Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 / Autumn Concerto / Fantaisie Impromptu / Laura / The Dream of Olwen / The Warsaw Concerto
The Way We Were *
The Genius of Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue / Embraceable You / Swanee / The Man I Love / Liza / Fascinating Rhythm / I Got Rhythm / Rhapsody in Blue
Mr. Sandman *
Piano Magic featuring Michael Wooldridge playing the fabulous new Yamaha Clavinova CVP-609 Digital Piano accompanied by his Yamaha Electone EL-700 Digital Orchestral Organ and Gareth Thompson on drums. Many items are from the tour Michael Co-Produced with That’s Entertainment Productions of Liberace Live from Las Vegas! featuring the UKs number one piano entertainer Bobby Crush in the lead role. Other tracks are popular favourites from Michael’s concert programmes.
This CD was recorded in two stages, the first being for Michael and Gareth to record the orchestral backings using the EL-700 and drums. Then Michael played the piano features over the top of these backings. Michael recorded four selected tracks solo on the CVP-609* only, played using the Clavinova’s rhythmic accompaniment styles to provide the backings, just as he does when playing this instrument live in concert. The final result of all tracks combined is a thrilling mix of piano magic!
Organ and Keyboard Cavalcade Review by Ian King
This CD is largely taken from a stage show Michael co-produced called “Liberace Live from Las Vegas” where he recreated the music from the flamboyant showman Liberace’s famous concerts. The touring show had Bobby Crush in the lead (diamond-encrusted and mink-lined) roll.
Electronic pianos can give as good a stab as organs at orchestral sounds nowadays, the only thing they lack is the pressure sensitivity of the lighter keyboards (which helps to bring solo instruments to life), but luckily there’s an organ on hand on this CD to take care of all that side of things. Organs, single-keyboards and electronic pianos are similar to the freezer sections at Tesco and Asda in one way… If you open the lid, they all have very similar chips.
Michael seems to be a busy man as this is his first CD since his brilliant ‘virtual’ organ CD “Virtualoso” in 2011. This CD was made by drummer Gareth Thompson recording Michael’s orchestral backings and then he would do his Liberace thing and add the piano part over the top (although not ‘over the top’ in the Liberace sense). The piano part was done on the new Yamaha Clavinova CVP-609, and there is a Yamaha EL-700 organ credited which took the orchestral side of things (maybe with some of the orchestral sounds of the 609). By the way, Gareth Thompson was acclaimed as one of the UKs top drummers at the Young Drummer of the Year Event and has supported Eric Clapton and Van Morrison amongst others, so a nice person to have on board to handle the percussion side of things and give the sounds more of an edge than just using one of the instruments rhythm boxes (if they’re still called that).
The resulting CD has a very pleasant laid back feel and a good strong selection of tunes from romantic songs, show tunes, classical favourites and standards. All these have that Liberace flare and all the twiddly-bits you would come to expect from anything which is trying to pay homage to a Liberace set-list. Mind you, it’s not just a copy of Liberace, as Michael celebrated thirty-five years as a professional musician in June of this year (1980 was the same year he won the ATOS Young Theatre Organist of the Year Competition), so he knows a thing or two himself. In fact just take a look at his résumé in the CD booklet and you will be suitably impressed, so while the playlist may be Liberace, there’s a lot of the Wooldridge side of things in here too, so more of a mixture, a sort of “Liber-Woold” (which does sound like a village in Cornwall).
There are lot of great tracks on this one, but highlights include, “Moon River”, the “Classical Favourites” medley, “The Way We Were” with it’s electric piano lead, “Crazy Rhythm”, “Cavatina” which features a lovely acoustic guitar on most of the track, the Liberace humorous crowd-pleaser “Chopsticks”, “Misty”, the “The Genius of Gershwin” and “Mr. Sandman” with it’s vocal doo-wop, accordion and acoustic guitar leads.
Review by Ian King from Organ and Keyboard Cavalcade Magazine.