Music Review: Jon Regen plays piano ballads that swing

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Jon Regen, "Stop Time" (Motema)

This 10-song set is nearly half over before pianist Jon Regen stretches out, launching into an impressive jazzy solo on the title cut.

Elsewhere Regen keeps things deceptively simple, and that's fine. His sturdy songs, pleasing tenor and seven-foot grand are a captivating combination, even when the notes are kept to a minimum.

Regen's music is two-drink minimum material, made for late at night in a cozy club with the piano in the middle of the room. While his playing is free of frills, his lyrics are straightforward too as he sings about persistence, resilience, allegiance and distance.

These are piano ballads that swing, thanks in part to Elvis Costello's rhythm section. The intimate arrangements are beautifully spare, so that on "Morning Papers," even a single cymbal tap resonates.

At times the mix of pop and jazz recalls Bruce Hornsby, and that's meant as high praise. The album title refers to Regen's wish that life could be put on pause, but these songs are made for the repeat button.