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Through the Vortex: The Sedona Effect by Bruce Lev
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/16/2018
A magical album
There is something special about connecting with a new artist, especially when you find the music contained within is fresh, exhilarating and beautifully produced. Bruce Lev has produced a positive collection of songs that will guarantee to lift your day and raise your energies, so let’s go Through the Vortex with the artist.
We start with a beautiful and gentle layer of natural sounds; these lead us perfectly into the first piece called Jackie’s World. The acoustic guitar is blissful and reminds me I must play mine again soon, this takes us into a wonderful song highlighting why it is best to keep your energy strong and positive and avoid the negativity that tries to control us. This is one incredibly empowering opus that has a wonderful symphonic John Lennon styled energy about its construction as well.
It Doesn’t Come Easy is our second leap into this vortex of tone and timbre, the start blew me away and really reminded me of a Hudson and Ford hit from the 70’s called Floating in the Wind. This is a really smooth song that borders on a light rock essence layered with a memorable female vocal that responds to the song narrative perfectly. This is one of those pieces that has a splendid addictive quality about its resonance, one that I will be featuring on many shows in the future.
We now move to In & Away, the start again employed the use of natural sounds, done in such a way that the mood is perfectly set for the song. This piece has a delightful reflective nature about its energy and one that challenges us to look deeper inside. The piano and guitar combination and sublime male and female harmonies are an exhilarating experience to be a part of. I also like the Beatles/Elton John styled motif at and around the 3 minute mark, one that nearly had me singing Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, this is truly an amazing offering and yet another that is going to be a big hit with the fans and listeners.
At the half way juncture we find another classy composition called Sedona In Summertime. Lev’s ability to draw a delightful array of musical narratives continues with this song. Its summer here now and all is warm and well, this is a real feel good piece, one that yet again contains an attractive tranquil tone, the piano drives the arrangement with a happy refrain, and the guitar strums along in this truthfully idyllic arrangement.
I’ve mentioned the Beatles a few times now, and it is even more pertinent as we visit one of their songs, Here Comes The Sun, written of course originally by George Harrison and released back in 1969. The fluency and balance in this version is really a pleasure to listen to, the energy that this song is performed with, adds a layer of warmth to the piece, and the piano and vocals all go to manifest something that is truly happy and blissful at every corner of the composition.
We now move deeper into the energies of Sedona and pass through a vortex that allows us to listen to one of the most charming pieces off the album and called Lullaby For Jessica. The strings here add that dimensional layer of tranquillity and peace that only a good Lullaby can have. This is a fine instrumental composition that combines the multi instrumental and symphonic essences of the arrangement perfectly.
The path ways through this veritable valley of sublime sound has been a scenic vista of tone and grandeur, an inspiring journey indeed, and here we are at the penultimate doorway of the album and it is called Bell Bottom Girl. A song of much memory, past love and emotions, this symbiosis of instrumentation and vocals are a delight to listen to, while Lev’s imploring singing and lyrics are a reminder of decades past for me personally.
The last offering on the release is entitled Rejuvenation, this has to be one of the most spiritual tracks from the album, the piano is stunning and Mark Forman sounds remarkably similar in energy to Grammy award winner Peter Kater, the whispering audio sets the scene perfectly for easily the most ambient, but inspiring song off the release. From darkness into light, this is one of those tracks that raise the hairs on the back of the neck, especially with the audio samples of overcoming adversity that are contained within, I couldn’t personally think of a better way of leaving an album like this, after all, there is no place like home!
Through The Vortex - The Sedona Effect is a truly magical album that will appeal to just about everyone on the planet, as there seems to be something for everyone inside. The performances and production qualities of this release are amazing and perfect in every way. Bruce Lev should be proud of what he has created here, and one could say with ease that this release is musically what the world needs today; this is a real energy raising release of supreme quality.
Rating: Excellent
Out of the Blue by Cory Lavine
- posted by Dyan Garris on 6/10/2018
Out of the Blue
“Out of the Blue” is the debut album by solo pianist and composer, Cory Lavine. Cory, a former hotel employee, experienced a series of interesting, synchronistic events that led him to create this album and to his life’s passion of music.
“Out of the Blue” is nine tracks of elegant, melodic, upbeat solo piano. A little short at 33:22 minutes, with nothing boring here, however, you will find yourself wanting to hear more from this talented pianist and composer long after the album ends.
The album may be short, but it is very sweet and colorful through and through. “Out of the Blue” is like a bright, happy, watercolor painting for the soul.
The album opens with the upbeat and passionate, “Riding the Wind.” One can picture themselves gracefully navigating the air currents of life’s ups and downs. It’s a flow. Following this effervescence is the lovely, “Give Thanks.” Nothing remotely “preachy” here, this composition is also easily flowing, melodic, and upbeat.
“Andante” on track 3, is a catchy and memorable tune. Tranquil, melodic, nicely paced, this is quite soul-soothing, and one of my favorites on the album. “Child’s Wish” follows. This Is sweet, nostalgic and day-dreamy, perhaps reminding us to remember our childhood dreams, to follow them, and to make them reality.
The title track, “Out of the Blue,” is my ultimate favorite composition on the album. This speaks to the whole inspiration for the album, a “chance” encounter, an out of the blue happening that leads us serendipitously to exactly where we are supposed to be. I really love this song. It’s rich, melodious, simply beautiful, and speaks directly through to our hearts.
“Fly Away” evokes feelings of soaring happiness and freedom. “Little Dance” feels very sweet and twinkling. “New Day” is nicely composed and tuneful, as are all the songs here. There is a thoughtful aspect to this song that perhaps reminds us there is promise in everything and to remember to take nothing for granted, not even the new day.
The album rounds out with the smoothly flowing and nicely played, “Reminiscing.” This is light, colorful, yet full of palatable passion and emotion.
This very pleasant album is not particularly complex, yet at the same time it’s not utterly simplistic either. It’s thoughtful, cohesive, and beautiful. Cory has a nice, confident touch and connection with the piano that shines through in every composition here. What really shines through too, is the passion and emotion behind the music, which is all very well phrased. Everything here is heart-touching and soul-soothing. This is happy-feeling solo piano music with a definitive elegance, grace, and sophistication wrapped around it all.
“Out of the Blue” is recommended for relaxation, stress relief, and feeling good. It’s comforting. I expect we will hear much more from very talented Cory Lavine in the future. For sure, he’s exactly where he’s supposed to be.

Buy “Out of the Blue” here:
Sheet music is also available at the artist’s website.
Encounters of the Beautiful Kind by Rachel LaFond
- posted by Steve Sheppard on 6/6/2018
Packed with passion, flowing with emotion
I have listened to much solo piano; many albums have crossed my path this year alone, but I have to say that Encounters of the Beautiful Kind has a special resonance about its construction for me, so why not join me on another musical journey through music with Rachel LaFond. You will I hope, see the qualities of this artist with the same lyrical gaze that I do.
LaFond, since her last release Wandering Soul, has grown massively and one only has to listen to the single, the opener of the album, Luminous, to hear that statement ring true, this is one of the most confident and passionate songs I think I have ever heard her manifest into our world, her performance is truly Luminous.
Rachel LaFond has spent some time under the tutelage of David Lanz and it was indeed an honour to have met her a few months ago on the island of Cyprus, I have known of her skill and potential greatness on the keys, but this album proves that journey to genius is in full motion as we speak, just listen to the sensitive and delicate style employed on Your Beauty Calls Me, the fluency and artistic grace is so abundant for all to hear.
This lush creation of a colourful musical narrative is continued with the next offering entitled Heart Full of Memories. This is one of my personal favourites from the release; it’s emotive and extremely reflective nature builds an irresistible energy, its imploring nature and passion filled performance is simply outstanding and deeply moving.
Tears for Catalunya almost seems to be part of my musical universe these days, I just cannot seem to stop listening to it, its cultured and intelligent performance is something to marvel, and yes, I think I would adore watching the artist perform this live. Of course there is an emotional motif to the track, but one that seems to be able to express itself so beautifully, proving LaFond’s abilities of musical picture creation is growing with a richness and quality, one that expands with each touch of the keys.
A statement of confidence is made with ease next on the piece, You Will Conquer This Shadow. Here the artist shows us another side to her growing genius, one that sees a real sense of empowerment in performance and composition, the energy builds throughout the offering and offers hope and power to all who embrace the truth of possibility, and leave the well of negativity to run dry. This is a really clever arrangement by LaFond; one that I think will be appreciated by listeners and fans worldwide.
Love’s Labour’s Never Lost Is now upon us and yes, Shakespeare did write a comedy many years back with a similar title, but I can assure you this has nothing to do with that. Here LaFond seems to further continue her musical narrative of the preceding piece, by perhaps stating that once your fears have been conquered, give love a try one more time. Musically this is a beautifully played composition, we see the artist in full flow but also employing a truly sublime sense of intensity when needed.
As we slide so very gently into the latter half of the album we come across a charming opus called The Questions You Heart Asks, it is at this point that one can sense the Lanz influence grow even further, the care and attention to detail in this offering is quite breath taking and wonderful to listen to. Yes, this is another favourite of mine; the performance by LaFond here is multi-faceted and intelligently sensitive it in construction, this is a fine example of a track that one could leave playing on repeat for hours.
The arm goes around the friend, he sighs and cries and the artist softly and deftly says, Don’t Cry, Calvin. What warms the heart about this release is LaFond’s sublime skill set, her ability to create a different musical layer and emotion almost at a whim, from the emotive, to the empowering, from the inspiring, to now, on this piece, to perhaps offer a musical narrative of reassurance within tone.
It is always good to have a moment of Unrestrained Joy and once more the artist shows her talents on a track that manifests yet another emotion, happiness in absolute abundance. Her performance here is assured and positive and thus this creates a real rising of the energies within this composition.
We have seamlessly arrived at the penultimate offering on the album and it’s called Shout to the Sun. I feel like the melody here is so familiar, but that’s clever in itself, it’s one of those arrangements that will crawl into your mind and you will find yourself humming it for ages. The performance here has a wonderful sense of clarity about its persona, one that will leave you fulfilled and empowered as it draws to its conclusion.
Now, before we step through the portal and away from the realm created here by Rachel LaFond, the musician has one more musical gift to leave us with and it is entitled A Knight’s Journey. It will only take a glance back at the voyage we have been on to realise that this has been a musical expedition of growth, endings and new beginnings, perhaps even more encounters of the beautiful kind can be found now, as we have grown enough to be transformed into the Knight and our journeying can begin again, perhaps this time to help others along the path that we have just walked. This is a stunning way to leave the album, the deepness of this track has to be felt and I would urge every listener to play this last musical present multiple times to gain the full effect of the composition, and each and every musical nuance along the way.
Encounters of the Beautiful Kind is a leap up the ladder for the composer, Rachel LaFond has rubbed shoulders with the great and good and the resulting effort is an album that is artistic at every turn, packed with passion and flowing with some of the strongest emotions possible. This is a milestone for the artist and the legions of her fans and solo piano enthusiasts should be cueing up at the door to get hold of a copy of this album, it is utterly brilliant.
Rating: Excellent
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