Over the course of more than 50 years, Earl Poole Ball has lived a musical career that defines journeyman, inhabiting Mississippi, California, Tennessee, and finally Austin. He's worked with Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons, Buck Owens, Wanda Jackson, Merle Haggard, Linda Ronstadt, Phil Ochs, and many more. A local since 1999, his résumé here includes the Cosmic Americans and Continental Club mainstays Heybale! Pianography offers a healthy glimpse of what Ball's been up to during that time, its 14 tracks divided into three sections. There's seven new recordings of songs he wrote mostly with Jo-El Sonnier, four from a 2010 live recording of a Johnny Cash tribute show at Emo's, and two older recordings, one from 1967 and another from 1977. Each portion demonstrates its own charm, the latest recordings showing Ball's ability to write inspired country songs like "Standing at the Edge of the World" and "The Real Me." The pianist also lets his rockabilly hair down, his favorite side it seems, with the Cash segment including a high-flying take of Roy Orbison composition "Down the Line." At 1:47, the 1967 recording "Second and San Antone" is much too brief, a simmering echo of rockabilly piano with silky smooth vocals. Throughout, Ball's accompanied by such complementary players as Casper Rawls, Dony Wynn, Cindy Cashdollar, Gene Elders, and Glenn Fukunaga, all of whom make Pianography a finely polished yet spunky representation of an extraordinary half century of music.
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