REVIEWS 'Stories' CD, 1994 - debut album 'It's been a year of impressive debuts for young pianists, what with strong discs from Cyrus Chestnut, Bill Charlap, and the excellent import discs from Jacky Terrasson. Add to this list the new disc from Australian Bill Risby'. 'Self-produced (with the aid of engineer Jeremy Mawer) and featuring eight original compositions among ten cuts, 'Stories' has a lot to recommend it. With the title 'When Photogen Met Nycteris', one might not know what to expect. Instead of a botany lesson, what we hear is a soft samba rhythm and spacious piano lines. Risby is not an acrobatic pianist - his lines are long and tend to build to slow resolves. The rhythm section is totally supportive and not intrusive. Bassist Craig Scott has a softer tone and less aggressive drive than other players, more like Charlie Haden. Drummer Simon Barker also does not overplay; instead he acts as both a cushion beneath the piano and as a springboard for the improvisations. His cymbal work on 'Take Notes' is impressive with his subtle prodding adds tension to the model musings 'Lilith'. Ornette Coleman's 'Turnaround' has a bluesy, after-hours feel along with bouncy walking bass lines. Risby builds the tension to moving his piano lines away from, then back to, the melody. 'The Strong One' features alto saxophonist Paul Mason and is a lovely ballad, reminiscent of the work Jan Gabarek did with Keith Jarrett but in a much more formal setting. A solo reading 'The Way You Look Tonight' closes the program. Risby does a stately reading of the melody, as if he was caressing the words while sitting alone in his study. The other solo track, 'Nikki', moves gently from a contemplative mood into a long, gospel section in which he sets the mood with rumbling bass lines and dancing melody lines. This music has a sensuous feel, insinuating it's way into your mind. Risby will not immediately overwhelm the listener with his technical facility but one will be pleased by his unerring sense of melody. Nothing is rushed in these songs; melodies are built carefully and soloists have plenty of room to make coherent statements. Yet the disc does not feel long because the pianist draws the listener into the music, piques one's curiosity as to where the music will go. On subsequent listenings, one picks up the shadings of the notes and how well Risby enunciates his lines. He has come a long way in developing his own voice and Bill Risby's 'Stories' are quite entrancing. Recommended'. Richard B Kamins, Cadence Magazine (USA), March 1995 'Phantom of the Piano'. Who is Bill Risby? The phantom of the Sydney jazz scene would be a fair response.' Having recently released an enchanting debut album entitled 'Stories', Risby finally appeared in the flesh to play two early evening sets at The Basement as a launch of this CD. With him were drummer Simon Barker and bassist John Aue, standing in for Craig Scott. Together they proved that the triumph was no fluke.' 'Some variation to the piano trio format was introduced via the use of the melodica for one latin-flavoured piece. Risby's supple playing and dynamic nuances made this 'toy' instrument infinitely more subtle than any imitative synthesizer' 'Risby is blessed with beautiful touch on the keyboard, no doubt helped by the fact that he has been playing since the age of 3. To the technique and touch is added a glorious sense of shape and colour, and a musical personality that is exuberant, warm, self effacing and impassioned.' John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald, November 1994 (Live Review - 'Stories CD launch') Other Reviews 'Entranced by the music, as composed and played by Bill Risby it was none the less gratifying to have a very personal opinion endorsed by Mike Nock. Nock is also a pianist, composer and influence, nonpareil. His judgement would be independent of the fact that Risby studied with him at the Sydney Conservatorium. Nock says 'with this CD, Australia take note - another brilliant young pianist/composer has emerged.' 'In an age when many musicians seem intent on pulping the aural capabilities and the senses of their audiences, it is more than passing pleasant to be able to listen, be able to hear, without feeling that sensibilities are threatened. Risby relies on musicality, on logical, thoughtful progression, for appeal. There are some 'classical' ploys, such as rolling riffs and repetitions, but never to excess. Risby's gift would make a thoughtful offering to anyone interested in jazz in one of it's most delightful representations, in piano, in composition, in blissful enjoyment.' And for justification of the effort being make to suggest at least a listening to 'Stories'. Michael Foster, Canberra Times (Excerpt) 'Risby can mount a sparkling flood of ideas which activates his superb rhythm team, but the overall feeling is meditative and unashamedly pretty. Risby has a very clean technique and he has some intriguing and highly pleasing things to say with it.' Gail Brennan, The Sydney Morning Herald 'In trio format, Risby has produced some of the most compelling work, beautiful piano solos, at times romantic and dramatic, and solid arrangements which bring the music 'Stories' alive'. Jill Morris, Australian Jazz Action Society.