The pianist's latest release, Menu 2, is a genuine glimpse into what a most perceptive talent can do when given to improvisation.
Menu 2 culls the outtakes and alternate versions of Mark Springer's 1991 set of piano compositions, Menu. The original album featured much of the musician's usual complexities in rhythm and arrangement, and Menu 2 seems to find Springer caught in his most pensive moments. Presented here are ideas and designs that have been captured in the fleeting moments of insight and elusive emotion. While the cuts on this release seem as studied as anything the pianist has ever done, they also seem less mannered. Springer follows instinct with fearless abandon, like an intrepid Alice chasing the rabbit of inspiration down the garden hole.
The most intense and beautiful moments are assessed and delivered in “Trick Spring" and “Don't Laugh Now", both of which unfold like the soundtrack to a dramatic thriller. Other tracks are cautious musings on melodies just grasped. Fortunately, Menu 2 is packaged with a second disc of new material, The Potentino Wine Piano Quintet, that uniformly refers to Springer's discipline, skill and musical intensity. Overall, Menu 2 never truly reaches the heights of what may be the artist's most masterful statement to date, 2015's The Watching Bird, yet it is a genuine glimpse into what a most perceptive talent can do when given to improvisation.