The reissue of Ferrante and Teicher's pricey 1958 album Blast Off! with four additional tracks is a welcome one. The piano duo was not originally budgeted for a full orchestra for the recording of its third album for ABC-Paramount. Undaunted, the pair experimented and created the necessary sounds through modifications to their concert grands. Strategically placed pieces of rubber, wood, metal, and wads of paper achieved the desired instrumental effects. Unlike John Cage, who was performing similar modifications for art's sake, Ferrante and Teicher were doing it for the masses.
Though much of the repertoire on Blast Off! are standards other lounge artists were covering at the time ("S'Wonderful," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "I Got Rhythm"), Ferrante and Teicher's approach is novel enough to sustain interest. Even today, it's amazing the sounds they were able to coax out of concert grand pianos -- at times they sound as otherworldly as synthesizers, or as down to earth as harps, zithers, and celestes. The best quality about the album is that it doesn't sound like a novelty or a gimmick, just two guys using their imagination to surmount the obstacle of not having the necessary instrumentation to create the sounds they desired. ~ Jim Powers