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Running Away by Timothy Wenzel
- posted by Gena on 3/26/2019

We have known for years that Timothy Wenzel writes great instrumental melodies, and is a strong pianist, electronic keyboardist and synthesist. But on his new album, RUNNING AWAY, he demonstrates how good he has gotten as a producer and arranger. He brings in three guest musicians and the interplay is stunning. Violinist Josie Quick is a member of the progressive groups Perpetual Motion, The Coyote Poets of the Universe and the Frontera String Quartet. Jill Haley on English horn and oboe is one of the early pioneers of new age music with numerous renowned solo and collaborative recordings to her credit. Percussionist Jeff Haynes has played with hundreds of top acts in the genres of new age (Will Ackerman, Fiona Joy), pop (Joni Mitchell) and jazz (Pat Metheny, Cassandra Wilson). What an ensemble! Wenzel and friends just keep getting better and better. This is outstanding new instrumental music that will be enjoyed by fans of modern new age music everywhere.
Rating: Excellent
Cappadocia by Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy
- posted by Lillian on 3/26/2019

Even though the new Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy keyboard-and-guitar album, Cappadocia, would most likely fall into the category of new age music, it definitely has world-music inflections throughout much of it. Which makes sense since the music was inspired by the country of Turkey and a spiritual region within that country (that area is called Cappadocia).

Phil Keaggy, a master of acoustic and electric guitars, utilizes a wide variety on this recording including classical and Spanish-style acoustics, a Turkish chumbus, a 12-string acoustic, Les Paul and Zion electrics among others, fretless bass, ukulele and Ebow. Keyboardist Jeff Johnson moves from piano to synthesizers to layer the music with additional textures that include the sounds of percussion, strings and flute. Both musicians also incorporated occasional very-subtle wordless vocalizations in the background.

This is simply beautiful mostly-instrumental music that is a pleasure to listen to. It is generally soft and gentle, so it makes for a soothing, relaxing listening experience, but there are lots of little creative elements within the music that will hold your interest. Recommended.
Rating: Excellent
Blue Moon Rising by Acoustic Ocean
- posted by R J Lannan - Artisan Music reviews on 3/20/2019
Blue Moon Rising
Acoustic Ocean
Blue Moon Rising

Just once in a blue moon…

There are places on this earth that are way beyond special. Katmandu, Nepal. Sedona, Arizona. And many more, but my favorite is Kona, Hawaii. In every craggy green hill, every fragment of cold, gray lava, and in every sun-jeweled wave in its beryl-colored ocean there is magic. That magic can be coaxed, manipulated, and loved into art; paintings, poetry, and music. Acoustic Ocean has been tapping that particular source and creating some of the most enchanting music for a very long time. Blue Moon Rising is their fourth album to grace the spirit with Celtic, contemporary, and world music. The eleven tracks of music are well thought out, balancing melody and theme, creating an acoustic ambience that lends itself to living a life of balances and compromises with the earth, with others, and especially, with one’s self.
Acoustic Ocean was a rare and extraordinary partnership between musicians Bette Phelan and Peggy Morgan. This is the first CD that Phelan has offered since the passing of Morgan in 2016, but rest assured that her spirit is ensconced in every note of this recording. Love and Aloha is still strong.
A Hui Ho, Hawaiian for Until We Me Again, opens the album like a wordless prayer, but not one that lacks sentiment. Evocative guitar and somber cello combine in this tender, obvious farewell. It is a pas de deux of souls, intertwined, dancing to music that only the spirit can hear.
The title tune Blue Moon Rising sounded to me like an old Appalachian tune. Flutes and fiddles, strummed guitar and fretless bass, and staccato percussion come together to form a tune that would be comfortable in the misty hills and green valleys of your imagination. A welcomed visitor any time.
In Deep Grace/Scarborough Fair has Paul Simon’s theme barely heard in the middle of the piece, coming and going like a ghost. The music also has the sound of the ocean, the voices of guitar and flute, and the cello. It is a dream sequence where everything, including time, is slowed, heartbeats become the drumming, and thoughts become iridescent colors.
Love is a Force Field has what is probably Morgan’s last vocal and harp accompaniment. Ocean and birds, along with a joyful melody celebrates life and living. You can feel the sun on your face, you can taste the salty tang of the ocean, and you get the sense that all is good in the world if only for that moment. Aloha Peggy.
I loved every cut on Blue Moon Rising, but my overall favorite is The Silent Storm. It is a sad melody with a Spanish guitar motif and serious cello, but the combination makes for a piece that is pensive and emotionally-rich. It had a distinctive feeling of absence. The storm is within and the churning of emotions, the confusion, and the turmoil coalesces into a primordial state that may take another lifetime to quell.
Sweet Mana from Heaven is peudo-slack key guitar tune. In this particular case, “mana” is the Polynesian concept of spiritual force and it sometimes stands for the power of place, that magic I wrote about earlier. The tune opens with the Tibetan gong and the voice of the “pueo” the Hawaiian owl. You can feel the energy of black lava field and green forest, blue ocean and bluer sky all seeping deeply into your soul. I have felt the mana many times.
Shadow Dancers takes on the Appalachian theme once again in a ghostly gambol. The bowed dulcimer, a rare instrument to my hearing, but one with an organic sound, plays the lead in this tune. Haunting flute joins in with fretless bass as its side. Together they create an ethereal world, a place where the unexplained is normal and where reality takes the day off.
The other four tunes on Blue Moon Rising are just as exciting or listenable. Bette Phelan, the composer and main musician on a dozen instruments is joined by Kay Aldrich on cello and of course, Peggy Morgan on harp and vocals. When I first began listening to this music, I thought it was strictly organic, but upon further listening I realize that it is conceptual in many ways. There is an intangible quality that defies description. You’ll just have to listen. Highly recommended.

Rating: Excellent
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