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Beautiful Song by Anne Trenning and Friends
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/23/2018
A rich texture & style, a colorful tapestry of mus
There is much to admire about the latest release Beautiful Song by Anne Trenning, it has elements of many genres and styles and is as lyrically pleasing as a summer sunset in June.
The Celtic motif on the opener is a most pleasing place to start and is of course the title track. Beautiful Song sweetly flows along with such a calming river of colour and sound and its smooth Celtic style is as warming and friendly as the violin that plays a major part on this piece, this is multi instrumental music at its very best.
Trenning’s talents can be in no doubt, and if you have been a fan of Neil Young over the years, I think you will appreciate her arrangement of Helpless, those wonderful Young signatures seem to just flow with great dexterity from her piano, accompanied by gentle strings along the way, creating a lush multi-dimensional version.
On You Will Know My Love, we have some of that very special Trenning magic that has matured so well over the years; this is a fine example of a piano performance that narrates a composition of honesty and unconditional love with such consummate ease.
Ciro Hurtado has to be one of the finest acoustic guitarists of the day, so to include him on this piece entitled El Farol was a stroke of genius, and a great tip of the hat to its original conception, by the amazing Carlos Santana. Listen to the stunning fluency by Trenning on this piece.
The subtleties of Do I Hear Christmas are something to listen to and include the Flugel Horn skills of the one and only Jeff Oster. The decidedly attractive string segments within this piece and the whole album provide a tranquil foundation of perfection, and all the while Trenning plays so softly and gently, as if caressing the very notes that utter from Oster’s Flugel Horn in a symbiotic partnership of tone.
This next piece should get the energies moving, a lively motif can be found on Miller Gap, the Celtic influence is strong in this one, and the flute bounces around with the effervescent piano of Trenning with ease.
As we descend into the latter half of the album we come across a fascinating little arrangement called It’s a Great Day to Be Alive. As I stated earlier this release transverses the genres with ease, Americana, Folk, and Country are just a few to be touched, especially so with this one, originally written by Darrell Scott and eventually recorded by Jon Randall. What Trenning does so well here, is to create a real sun kissed opus of a piece, and her performance brings the whole arrangement up to date, a truly happy composition to be enjoyed with a smile.
It has to be said that I do have favourites from most albums I review and that’s many, this next one is my favourite from this album, it’s the mournful and reflective Hard Times Come No More. One must also send thumbs up to accordionist Brendon Bush as well. This is one of those imploring offerings that could last well over the years, a constant reminder that even the worst of times can be defeated by a little faith in oneself.
I simply adored the 1985 movie Witness, which highlighted the acting skills of Star Wars hero Harrison Ford. Maurice Jarre’s composition Building the Barn was an outstanding arrangement from it, and here Trenning and her piano, accompanied by the strings of musical magic, manifest a really delicate but purposeful piece.
The penultimate offering is called If I Could Be With You, its construction almost touches the hem of classical music and dances with the new age genre with such happiness. This again has such a charming narrative to it; it’s a true feel good moment of musical brilliance.
Ann Trenning sums up her concept with a short form composition called Go Light Your World, ably supported by the smooth tones of Fred Hiscock’s Tenor Saxophone. Trenning brings this musical journey to an end with a touch of cleverness, which leaves us musically full filled by what we have just heard.
Beautiful Song, doesn’t only do Trenning’s skills as a pianist justice, it also highlights her intelligence as a performer and composer; she has gathered together a fine array of artists in their own right, and brought to the world an album rich in texture and style, within a colourful tapestry of music, that can only bring happy smiles to the faces of all who listen.
Rating: Excellent
Kiss The Quiet by Michael Whalen
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/23/2018
Emotive and uplifting but also nicely chilled
There is something so endearing about this latest release from Michael Whalen. The reflective quality is there, the ambience also and a whole pastiche of colour as well. New Age music is back and with a bang and albums like Whalen’s Kiss the Quiet, are the new forerunners of this new generation of stunning contemporary instrumental music.
Take a listen to the very sumptuous opener, which is of course is the proud and quite stunning title header, Kiss the Quiet. The sheer ambience and beauty of this track is beyond blissful, the keyboards resonate a feeling of harmony, of safety and of peace; this has a mournful reflection, but one that lifts the spirits and raises the energies in a respectful tone.
These musical meditations continue with Heart So Filled With Joy, here we find a full flowing and natural energy on keyboards, one that creates a piece that simply resonates a joyful level of happiness. The performance here builds on the last offering with such skill and beauty and is a pleasure to behold.
Full Moon Dance is a dreamy piece that draws on the energies of the time of day that is fast fading, there is an almost lullaby ethic about this composition that is so attractive, one can feel through the tones of this offering that we are being lulled into a realm of a dimension, that requires us simply to enjoy each and every moment of this ethereal dance.
On Almost Touching Heaven, a creation of utter bliss is created; this is one of my favourite compositions off the release, it’s the ambience that I love, I could float on this creation for eons and never realise the passages of time that have passed. The performance on keyboards is both powerful yet sensitive at the same time, and without doubt one of the most imploring pieces off the release, this is indeed an incredibly moving arrangement.
At the half way juncture we come across a wonderfully chilled arrangement called The Prayer Box, this silky smooth opus creates such a heavenly mood, while the piano once more manifests a gentle revealing musical picture of peace and hope. Whilst we listen to this play out, we could be forgiven for feeling that we are floating freely on summer clouds of tranquillity.
No More Secrets is up next and despite the title there is a mysterious energy about this composition. The keyboards are descriptive in their narrative and perhaps in a way to illustrate a fresh start, a new beginning and the laying of new ground rules maybe about to take place, the tension in the overall construction of this track is pretty addictive.
The vast ambience on Windows to the Soul is very special and the repeating motif draws a very open and honest reality of musical bliss, the keyboards here really manifest a beautiful flowing world of serenity. The performance here by Whalen is also empowering and assuring, there is a certain warmth within this track, that is both appealing and also comforting.
We now slide deeper into the release and come across a very mournful piece called My Obsequious Tear; this has to be the cleverest track off the album, as the music conveys a level of great sadness to me, yet to be Obsequious is to be excessive in servility, so one could perhaps assume that as the tear falls, the truth behind the eyes they fell from, is well hidden. Musically this is my favourite piece from the release, this one really made me think, it challenged me and also reminded me greatly of David Lanz and his French Impressions album, that like this track, it is packed with great ambient piano.
The penultimate offering is the quite brilliant, Hush the Night; as the album progressed, a certain sense of trepidation and apprehension has developed, which I may add is absolutely stunning, this piece is like reading a suspense novel and you can’t wait to turn the page, this track and album is totally riveting. Hush the Night would have fitted into the film Bladerunner with ease and has that slight Memories of Green motif that is undeniably superb.
The final portal in this realm of musical genius is called Ever Closer, Ever Nearer, Ever Sooner. This has a very slight elevation in energy, just enough to allow us to drift out of the album in total peace; the gentle refrains about its nature, makes it the ideal composition to exit the album with.
Kiss the Quiet by Michael Whalen is a special album; it creates a narrative that is compelling, manifesting an almost mid movie soundtrack feeling to its collection of ambient compositions, and also allows us the seekers of great music, to feel within it, a total state of bliss. Kiss the Quiet is an album that has been created with such care and attention, and Michael Whalen should be applauded for making one of the most emotive and yet uplifting and chilled releases of the year so far.
Rating: Excellent
Every Moment by Joseph L Young
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 3/18/2018
Pristinely beautiful
There are times in my life when I come across an album that is so good it gives me the chills when I least expected it to do so, but Joseph L Young’s latest release Every Moment has just done that, and continues to do so with every play.
Young this time is on Saxophone and incorporates other musical genius along with him to manifest something out of this world musically for us to enjoy. The skills of Young for instance on Tin Whistle, brings us such a mournful repose on the opening track Prism, while the sax of Young is played with such soul and oneness it’s unbelievable.
Young’s sensitivity as a musician is well known and here on Falling Through Time we explore not only that sublime touch, but also a slightly more rhythmic approach to this next composition, while Young is the constant master narrator on the sax, he also seems to be the magical creator who brings this simply delightful track all together with the consummate ease of a musical magician.
Now we move to the stunning title track and of course this is entitled Every Moment, the beginning of this beautiful opus is very ambient in its construction. Here we have a quality composition, the headline piece, which brings so many colours to the whole project, try gazing at the quite breath taking art work for this album, and listen to this particular track, it’s very effective.
The moody and bass filled Twilight is now upon us and a more redolent piece reflective of this moment in time you will find. This deeply moving composition brings a really contemplative moment for us all, the synths, bass and percussion are creators of alternate dimensions that partner Young’s sax to perfection.
On Time Traveler we have a totally different piece and we come across another friend of the flute in Cornel Kinderknecht, this time employing his talents on the Bansuri Flute. The sax of Young seems to tell the tale of the time travellers sojourns with the ease of a grand master; there is also a real energy of a movie soundtrack about this arrangement too.
The swirling synths at the start of the middle based composition Once In A While set the scene, the bass and beat is the foundation for something smooth, but spectacular, the movement of musical time is so very evident here, the refrain of Young’s sax is so imploring and emotive, and will make this, with its many nuances, a must to return to piece again and again.
Joseph L Young returns to his Native American style for this next offering called Vicariously Blue. Young’s smooth and poignant sax is joined by his Native American Flute, and their performance together creates something deep, but very respectful. The percussion and chimes add a layer of further soul to this already classy composition.
I adored the ambience that Continuum created for me, the song elevates its energy and manifests something quite special, here we can hear Young’s passion and heart on sax like never before. There is something so fluent and attractive about this piece, one can constantly sense the unceasing tick and tock of the relentless clock here as well.
Chronos Dreams is now with us; he is well known to us here in the Greek Islands and Cyprus, the God of all time. This steady and onward flow of musical crafting is perfection for the subject matter in question. The vastness of this composition is like time itself, immense and endless, and the construction of this track has that energy about its arrangement, kudos also to Lisa Bittick, whose Viola here was sublime.
We have moved now into the far reaches of the album and come across a fascinating opus called Letting Go, something I have done a lot of lately. For the first time Joseph is joined by vocalist Rona Yellow Robe, who also provided the lyric’s as well. I found something quite spiritual about this offering, one could almost be forgiven for thinking this could actually be our mother Earth talking to us, however, the partnership with Young on sax, drew a really empowering narrative and one with much hope built into the overall track too.
Synths swirl around us once more as we arrive at the penultimate offering of the album and this one is called Eleventh Hour, there is almost a light rock feel about this piece that is pretty appealing, and the composition itself has a wonderful sense of anticipation of something big ahead within its construction, this is one of those pieces that I can see myself listening to frequently.
So, we have landed at the last composition on the album, but before the artist leaves this realm he has created, he will give us one parting musical gift to take home with us, and it’s called Evening Repose. Natural sounds greet our ears and a sultry and soft sax manifests a vista so deeply relaxing and calming. I am pretty sure this is going to be played on my veranda this summer, as I gaze out at the ocean blue. At over six minutes it is the longest piece off the release, but it could have lasted for sixty minutes, I wouldn’t have minded, it is simply the perfect way to the leave the album and shut down the day.
Every Moment by Joseph L Young is one of the finest albums I have heard this year, there have been a few now but it’s so pleasing to hear so much quality out there. Young though on this album, has opened his heart and embraced his original muse, the Saxophone, and manifested something so pristinely beautiful, that it will flourish in all corners of the musical world, this is one you will absolutely not want to miss out on.
Rating: Excellent
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