Reviews of Recently Released CDs

Last time we saw Dahlander was just over a year ago. He has since left his post in the Oklahoma Department of Education and moved to Dallas. He says the move was for a better day job, but his record company is there and I’ve got an idea where Jon’s true passions lie. The follow-up to his impressive solo piano debut is equally charming and astonishing graceful.

The beauty of Dahlander’s expressive playing is that it rises so far above the excess of sentiment or the strain of purpose given to many of the solo pianists you’ll find lurking sullenly in the New Age section. Like George Winston, Dahlander composes with great concern for the lyric line of each piece, but he’s somehow more carefee than Winston, his hands (particularly the right) lighter and skipping a bit higher than Winston’s contemplative walk. These pieces bask in the sheer joy of being played, even when focusing on someone obviously close to Dahlander’s heart in “The Strawberry Princess” (a touching piece whose melody, I think, plays on Dylan’s “License to Kill”).

The theme of the debut was the ocean; this one focuses on mountains and the wonder therein. His reference points are regional — “Sangre de Christo,” “Arbuckle Sunrise” — and each thought beautifully surmised. Dahlander looks to be a constant source of joy.

Best Buy carried the debut, but if you’re hunting, contact Carpe Diem at (800) 249-1934.

— Thomas Conner, World Staff Writer