If you have ever seen Triumphant Quartet in concert, been to a piano showcase at NQC (National Quartet Convention) or another venue that features SGM pianists, you’ve heard Jeff Stice tare the keys up a time or two. Sometimes he’ll play a exciting rendition of “Joshua Fit’ The Battle Of Jericho,” and at other times a soft hymn arrangement such as “Mansion Over The Hilltop.” Maybe he’ll play both! Nevertheless, Jeff is known as one of the best pianist in this industry and has won many awards…and fans due to his talent and hard work.
One of Jeff’s biggest fans is his mom – and he dedicates this project, Me and a Piano, to her. Recently in concert, he shared that his mother had a desire to hear him play “without his background music” in her home. He quickly complied, and the suggestion was made that he should record a CD with just him playing by himself…no background music. Thus this recording was born. Jeff let his mom pick the songs for the CD – she picked 14 of her favorites, and here they are!…just Jeff and a piano.
1. There’s Something About That Name
2. Wait Til’ You See Me In My New Home
3. Mansion Over The Hilltop
4. Goodbye World Goodbye
5. El Shaddai
6. What A Friend We Have In Jesus
7. A Sinner’s Plea
8. Bell Of Joy
9. Jesus Loves Me
10. Sweeter As The Days Go By
11. When They Ring Those Golden Bells
12. Amazing Grace
13. When We All Get To Heaven
Highlights: Goodbye World Goodbye, Bell Of Joy and When We All Get To Heaven are the fast songs of the project – there is a very Southern Gospel style implemented in the arrangements. One special note on Goodbye World Goodbye: this solo is the most unique arrangement I’ve heard of this song in SGM. It is different from Anthony Burger and Roger Bennett’s arrangements, and I like that. Jeff gives it a new character that I think everyone will enjoy! It’s also worthy to mention that Jeff included the very first hymn he ever learned on the piano – Mansion Over The Hilltop. That hymn, along with What A Friend, There’s Something About That Name, Amazing Grace and Home are all solo’s whose soft music reflects the true nature of the hymns they are. Others like: Wait Til’ You See Me In My New Home, A Sinner’s Plea and Sweeter As The Days Go By have some added “groove” with thick, lush chords. I’d also like to point out two favorites of mine, El Shaddai and Jesus Loves Me. The arrangements are so refreshing! They are “fancy,” yet soothing to the heart and ear – a perfect combination if you ask me. Last but not least, When They Ring Those Golden Bells. The very first two chords and the very last three chords actually sound like a bell ringing! This creates a vivid imagery, and when you hear it, pictures of bells pop into your mind!
Conclusion: First of all – thank you Mrs. Stice for picking such great songs! Secondly, thank you Jeff for recording this project for us “Piano Lovers” out there! There is nothing quite like hearing just the piano. 🙂 So the question is: was 14 songs too long for a project with no background music to make it interesting? My immediate thought is no. The style in which Jeff plays creates an underlying musical theme from track to track that will keep the interested ear always listening, calm an anxious spirit and keep you humming the words to each song and hymn. This project is perfect! If you like to hear the piano, this recording is for you!