||As soon as I read the title of the album I knew I would connect with Richard Carr’s music, particularly with the track called Searching for Balance. I use myself as an example, but we are all looking for balance in our careers, or personal lives and in our futures. Some seek balance on a minute by minute basis, some more long term. The problem is, you go through life, something unforeseen happens and you end up starting over…a lot. This change or accident or phenomena gives life to self-doubt and the search continues. Richard, through this work called Matters of Balance is in search of his balance.
Richard Carr has been a pianist and composer for decades. His work has taken him from St. Louis to New Orleans to Monterrey, California. Along the way he has been a musician, a teacher, a mentor and so much more. His music, 15 albums and counting, has been for the most part improvisational. Matters of Balance is his first album using accompanying musicians and choosing the talents from Imaginary Road Studios under the auspices of legendary producer Will Ackerman was a wise choice.
The transcendent track Ascendance opens the album. It is a work that exudes confidence and power. It is as if something has happened to change what is. The musical version of an epiphany. Carr is accompanied by Jeff Oster, whose flugelhorn, a unique instrument to grace contemporary music, conveys a distant sound of ethereal beauty. Which brings us to the next track, Awakening Spirit. It is a flowing ballad full of natural energies and optimism. There comes a time when you see the light, even if it is in the form of musical notes. You are touched and inspired and you translate that into music. Richard renders that experience in a quiet, peaceful composition.
Searching for Balance turned out to be my favorite on the album. There are some introspectively warm nuances in the tune, a result of the combination of Carr’s evocative piano and the additional blending of Eugene Friesen’s cello, Michael Manring’s bass and Jill Haley’s English horn. The four instruments mesh well, giving the song a sophisticated luminosity.
Oster’s echoing flugelhorn haunts the tune The Call and I mean it in a good way. The tune itself is a compliment, almost an anthem if you will, full of dynamic repartee in a musical sense. The tempo is steady, upbeat and positive. It is an appeal that many hear, but fail to respond. Noah Wilding adds her soft vocal intonation as a whisper in the wind. Carr’s piano is the hero of the story, triumphant and uplifting. Into Balance, another thematic score, features Richard’s strong solo piano arrangement with a moody feel. Balance may be achieved, but everything has its price.
The last cut is called Inner Peace. And this is what the search is all about. Silver can buy success, gold might get you material things, but peace is the one thing that everyone desires, but it cannot be bought. It has to be achieved. Inner peace comes in a myriad of forms, but only you can determine what it is for yourself. Carr’s final tune is dramatic and pensive. It is a muted celebration of bold piano enthusiasms.
Richard Carr has been pounding and tickling the ivories for most of his adult life. He has given of himself unselfishly to causes, but on Matters of Balance he gives his talents to a ready listening audience. His eleven tracks of contemporary instrumental music is his proof of life. I think he has achieved his balance.