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A cross-genre jaunt with Starr Parodi

July 17, 2007|Don Heckman | Special to The Times

How does Starr Parodi categorize her music? Even she isn't sure. "American classical music?" she ventured between sets at the Atelier on Sunday afternoon. Eventually, she simply called it "piano music," perhaps as accurate a description as any given her colorful, genre-crossing career.

Parodi may be best known for her stint as the keyboardist on "The Arsenio Hall Show." But the L.A. native also has scored the music (usually in partnership with her husband, Jeff Eden Fair) for dozens of television and film projects.

Parodi's live performances, away from banks of synthesizers and samples, have been far rarer.

Many of the selections were from Parodi's recently released album, "Common Places." She began with a pair of tunes that incorporated recorded piano sounds with live playing -- the album's title track and Stephen Stills' late-'60s classic, "For What It's Worth." The latter piece, in particular, seemingly out of context without lyrics, nonetheless retained the dark intensity of the original in Parodi's gripping interpretation.

Other originals included the Bach chorale-like "Forgiveness" and the rich rhythmic undercurrents of "Kenya."

And the covers continued to come from unexpected sources: from the James Bond film theme to Albinoni's lovely Adagio in G minor.

Parodi was joined on several tunes by the sturdy bass work of Joel Hamilton. Singer Louis Price's contributions -- especially a spirited rendering of "Tracks of My Tears" -- added more variation to a program that was happily beyond categorization.

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