||I always expect the unexpected when it comes to music. I was not prepared for the dramatic, intricate, and sophisticated style of pianist and composer Peter Calandra on his latest work called Inner Circle. Calandra's thirteen-track album is a high-energy and sometimes calming assortment of contemporary, jazz and a few genre-bending numbers. The mix is so eclectic, you might think that the CD player switched albums on you. The term inner circle can refer to an entourage, a group close to royalty, or a bunch of hangers-on. In Peter's case, it is the people that are close him, his family, his friends, and his support network. It can apply to you, too. That is why I liked it so much. Variety is the spice of music.
Clyde and the Pearl is pure jazz. Enough said.
Dine's Waltz is a light, airy tune that has a cinematic feel. There is a lot of movement, but it is not just twirl and sway. There is a sense that as the dancer's spin, the scenery around them changes as if they are the center of the vignette. There is light and darkness, greenery and starlight. It is a dance of passion and a day in a life.
We are offered an exciting journey on the tune The Wayfarer. There is some great orchestration on this one and it quickly became a favorite. The sensation of urgency is dominant in the first half, but subsequently things take a light-hearted turn. Then, it takes off again as if we have no time to lose. The destination? You chose.
Inner Circleexerts a faintly classical reach, but it is tenuous. It segues into a light jazz motif here and there. It is the variety I alluded to earlier. The song is about portraits, I think. Quick snapshots of people and memories. Happy faces, shy smiles, sunny days and languid afternoons. The whole song is like a musical souvenir.
Faith had a lustrous, dynamic oboe lead and I liked it very much. It is not the sound of a preachy prayer, but a tune of thankfulness and an acknowledgement of a Higher Power guiding your everyday life, or maybe not. You can have faith in many things, but faith in your own abilities is not to be ignored.
The longest track on Inner Circle is called The Dreamer. The violin work is superb on a tune that drifts along suggesting a calm, peaceful place that is not as close as just around the corner, but not as far away as the next galaxy. Like the petals of a rose, beauty unfolds within the quietude.
The final cut is called Chorale and it is. Sounding like a bittersweet goodbye, but without too many regrets, it is too calm to be a celebration. It is uplifting in tone. The angelic quality is warm and peaceful.
"Inner Circle" turns out to have a wonderful fusion of genres that is sure to please almost any audience. The accompanying musicians, Joy Askew, Tom Barney, Stomu Takeishi, Kathleen Nester, Peter Prosser, and Ralph Farris are first rate and, with a nod to Ken freeman and Peter Calandra, the production values of the disc itself are superlative. I’m going to listen to The Wayfarer one last time.