Open Up is what I like to call a musical serendipity. The work of Caroline Fiona Wright, aka the Charlie Foxtrot Piano Collective, the album is a collection of multilayered piano music, inspired by the worlds of classical, electronic, film and folk music. All the pieces are composed and recorded by Wright and it is for her an opportunity to explore her love for the piano and its orchestral potential. With music that is for some of it as old as twenty-years, the pianist explores both harmonic and rhythmic concepts, from ostinati to modality. A piece of work rich in ideas and concepts.
A few elements of Open Up intensely grab the attention of the listener. The creative approach of layering the piano and creating a multi-dimensional experience through repetition and fragmentation; from “People Watching” to the pulsatic “Relentless” or the minimalistic cellular music of “Without Voice”. It is all about layers, patterns, motifs interlacing each other creating a sort of crazy musical quilt. The DNA of the music, and most probably Wright’s own musical personality is however very well anchored in blues and jazz; it is pentatonic percussive music, and it grooves. From the almost soul-y “Just Keep Going” and “Anticipation”, to the crossover of genres of “Lockdown Boogie” or the jazzy “Falling Light”. It is worth mentioning the hint at Spanish music, with the hugely descriptive “Storm”. In order to pace the intensity of the album, Wright sparkles some resting pieces, yet quieter each of the following maintain the founding elements of the album; whether it is “Believe”, “The Hill We Climb” or “Whale Song”.
Open Up is a real musical surprise, a piece of work which not only captivates the mind, but shakes the body and invites it to move. The creative process of the album involved composing, improvising and arranging. The aim for Wright was to maintain the acoustic and tonal quality of the piano; in a way it is returning the process of electronic sampling to natural acoustics — and the multiple recording sessions which that involves. With the world that just reopened after several months of lockdown, Open Up is Wright’s own way of reopening the piano to sound exploration.