Swing! The CalBal '23 Session by PÀPPA D is a beautiful swing album that takes the best parts of improvisational jazz and some folk influences to create an emotionally charged collection of tracks that show off their personality through their excellent work on the piano.
I like the use of different takes uploaded as separate tracks.
This choice makes the album feel more human and relatable. It doesn't necessarily criticize any of the versions, it suggests that they all bring different perspectives to the music. The takes also convey the theme of growth in the differences between each version. By Hooked on a Swing (take 3), slight changes and tonal differences felt bold because I have already become accustomed to take 2.
Reminiscing is a gentle and smooth introduction to the album, conveying a sense of warmth and charisma right from the start. That tone is continued in Day ‘n’ Night but is challenged slightly in Moody LA. This track plays with darker tones and dissonance nicely. With a languid pace but a lot of fast improvisational runs, the song is full of dissonance and contradictions that, to me, match the theme of La's weirdness, covered in the title. One could also imagine this track being the accompaniment to a gritty detective monologue in a black and white film due to that tonal ambiguity.
PÀPPA D mentioned that he is inspired by dance and that is apparent in the execution of the album as a whole. It is full of delicate rhythms and melodies that overlap, making you want to nod your head. A great example of this is Oh, But What About The Old Days. It has a gentle yet bold sonic guide created by the syncopated rhythm that operates as a constant throughout the ever-changing melody of the piece. The Best Offer feels tonally different from other tracks on the album. While still maintaining that swing sound that PÀPPA D has established, there is a jaded cynicism to the rhythm at the start. It feels as if that begins to fade as the piece goes on. This track feels like someone uptight and miserable letting loose and dancing.
Overall, Swing! The CalBal '23 Session shows incredible emotional range, especially considering the laser focus on the piano throughout the album. In this case, those constraints allowed PÀPPA D to flourish creatively.