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airport people’s elegant, creative, relaxing record is a triumph

Last updated on September 7, 2022

Peaceful music is difficult to make. It’s hard to be creative and relaxing at the same time. Yet those who can produce the perfect balance can create indelible music. airport people‘s from nine mornings is a rare album that is intricate and deeply involving while also being deeply peaceful. I feel refreshed after listening to From Nine Mornings, which is a rare experience for me.

The nine mornings here (except for the “Prelude,” each track is “From Morning no. X”) are primarily piano pieces. Percussion, the occasional stringed instrument, and some found sounds appear throughout, but these tunes are all about Leon Todd Johnson’s delicate, intricate, engaging piano work. There’s a touch of ’70s smooth jazz here, in the casual yet revelatory approach to the pieces. But these pieces feel deeply authentic; there are no pretenses or postures here, just beautiful instrumental expressions. These pieces are peaceful, but they move; “From Morning no. 2” has a propulsive forward motion through the beautiful lead piano and the tasteful percussion, while “From Morning no. 5” takes its time unfurling into a subtle, warm piece with a carefully developed groove via left hand, bass, and drums.

Elsewhere, Johnson lets the piano sit alone. “From Morning no. 4” is a spartan, open affair with only minor contributions from the other instruments. “From Morning no. 3” has birdsong as one of the piano’s main counterpoints; the piece feels organic and lovely. “From Morning no. 8” is nearly ambient in its austere, restrained approach.

This is the sort of album that I feel is diminished through too much description. The joys of this record are many and wonderful. Discovering them has been a treat, and a highlight of my music listening year so far. airport people’s debut record is a triumph. Highly recommended.