‘Friends’ 20th Premiere Anniversary: Top 20 Episodes

'Circle Of Life' Marks John Bayless' First Album Release Since 1999

June 1st, 2008 4:00pm EDT
John BaylessIn 1985, pianist John Bayless began his recorded music career with Bach Meets the Beatles, an album where he brilliantly improvised on the songs of the Beatles in the style of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Twenty-three years later, Bayless remains one of the top classical crossover stars in the US — his albums have consistently topped the charts, and he has sold well into the hundreds of thousands. On his new album, Circle of Life, he once again fuses the music of Bach with popular tunes — though this time taking his melodic inspiration from the songs of Elton John.

The juxtapositions are striking. "Your Song" mixes with snippets from the D Major Piano Concerto, "Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road" dances with the gigue from Brandenburg Concerto No.5, while "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" becomes a solemn chorale. In each track, Bayless gets to the heart of the song, pairs it with a Bach piece of similar emotional sentiment, and then lets the music flow, often leading to unexpected places.

Bayless's improvisations never fail to impress, surprise, and move listeners. In Elton John, he has found a sympathetic muse, and the stunning results speak for themselves, sure to pique the interest of fans of either artist.

John Bayless has built a career on his gift of improvisation and his canny musical choices. Born and raised in Borger, Texas, John Bayless won a scholarship to the Aspen School of Music at age 15, and two years later moved to New York to study with Adele Marcus at The Juilliard School of Music. Bayless was invited to participate as a composer in the inaugural class of New York University's Musical Theater Masters Degree Program where he studied with Leonard Bernstein, Jule Styne, Arthur Laurents, Betty Comden and Adolph Green.

His Puccini Album, released in 1993, topped the Billboard Classical crossover chart for 18 weeks and sold over 170,000 copies. The Movie Album (1996) and Romantica (1999) followed with nearly the same level of success. In recent seasons, John Bayless has played more that 175 concerts. He has appeared at Carnegie Hall in a performance of his own West Side Story Concert Variations for solo piano and orchestra, made his Tanglewood debut playing Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue with the Boston Pops, opened the San Francisco Summer Pops season with the same work and appeared in three sold-out concerts at the Hollywood Bowl with John Mauceri and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra. Most recently he has been presenting "Amadeus Live" in which he takes on the role of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart in a typical day of the composer's life.

John Bayless

Tracklisting:
1. Circle of Life
2. Your Song
3. Tiny Dancer
4. Can You Feel the Love Tonight?
5. Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word to Say
6. Believe
7. Daniel
8. Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road
9. The One
10. Crocodile Rock
11. Rocket Man (I Think It's Going to Be a Long, Long Time)
12. Candle in the Wind
13. The Last Song