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Summon the Wind by Timothy Wenzel
- posted by gena on 2/26/2015
New Timothy Wenzel CD


As Timothy Wenzel continues to pursue his musical passions, he is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the top keyboardists in the new age genre. This album, Summon the Wind, is his fourth and it continues Wenzel’s tradition of creating excellent contemporary instrumental ensemble music that is right in the pocket of what new age music listeners want. Yes, the music is generally gentle and relaxing (although there are light drums mixed throughout), but it also offers lovely melodies and full-bodied, well-crafted arrangements. The music mostly features piano and synthesizer shadings, but also quite a few flutes and violins (sometimes sounding a bit like Celtic fiddles). There also are the scattered sounds of harp, guitars, bass, drums and percussion as well as bells, and the wordless vocalizing of choirs (male and female voices utilized). Electric guitarist Michael Rud from Denmark makes a special guest appearance on one tune. As the album title (and several tune titles) suggests, the music explores the general theme of “wind,” both in actuality and metaphorically. Wenzel’s music also explores love, dreaming, exploration, inventions, the earth and nature. The compositions cover a wide spectrum, sounding like a European waltz from centuries past at one point and then like a forceful progressive-rock band a few minutes later. One moment there is the feeling of a visit to a cathedral and the next you are sailing away to the edge of the world. This is a high-quality, recommended recording for all new age music lovers.
Rating: Excellent
Firelight by Terra Guitarra
- posted by gena on 2/24/2015
Exquisite Latin-Style Guitars

Terra Guitarra is a duo that features two acoustic guitars playing a fun, fiery, toe-tapping, modern, Latin style of acoustic, instrumental music. Their latest album, FIRELIGHT, contains a dozen catchy originals plus their version of the Hispanic classic “Malaguena.” Their last album went to #4 on the monthly international Zone Music Reporter Top 100 chart. This highly-popular touring act has performed more than 2,750 concerts during the past decade. The music is grounded with the powerful grooves of rhythm-guitarist Julie Patchouli, and gets passionately melodic through the lead-guitar picking of Bruce Hecksel. The music falls into the contemporary genre known variously as nuevo flamenco or nouveau flamenco. Regardless of the tag, this duo plays it as well as anyone in the field (Ottmar Liebert, Johannes Linstead, Jesse Cook, etc.). Terra Guitarra puts a few twists into the mix (Julie playing steel-string while Bruce solos on nylon string, Bruce using a pick for speed and precision attack rather than fingertips). Highlights of the Terra Guitarra sound are the extremely melodic compositions, the rock-solid rhythmic base the music is built on, and Hecksel’s soaring lead solos that propel the music forward with ever-present excitement. Recommended.
Rating: Excellent
Undercurrent by Michele McLaughlin
- posted by Michael Diamond on 2/24/2015
Undercurrent by Michele McLaughlin
A great number of the instrumentalists I write about, and pianists in particular, tell of years of study, private lessons, music academies and conservatories, and the like. It’s not as often that I hear a pianist who has reached an extremely high level of proficiency with no formal training and being completely self-taught. However, Michele McLaughlin is one of them. In her words: “I just learned to play by listening to other musicians, and it wasn’t long before I was composing my own songs.” Now 15 albums later, Michele is a well-recognized artist in the new age solo piano world and has become an in-demand performer.

Speaking about being a prolific performer, the opening track, “11,000 Miles,” about her 30 shows in 26 states tour, over a period of two months is a perfect example. This song makes a wonderful opening piece for the album and totally captures the sense of fun and adventure that Michele described in the liner notes. It is lively and upbeat with a rolling-down-the-highway feel to it. This being the first song of Michele’s that I heard, I must say that my response was a big “wow!” The thought that kept coming up for me was: “I cant’ believe this person is self-taught!” Her dexterity is notable and I was quite impressed with the composition itself, and particularly with some of unusual and unexpected chord changes she used.

I greatly appreciated that Michele included liner notes, which gave a brief description of the inspiration behind each song. A good example was “Changing Skies.” That imagery came to life in my mind’s eye as I listened to the composition in peaceful reverie. Another remarkable aspect of Michele’s playing is emotional spectrum she is capable of revealing in her music from one piece to the next. A case in point was the effortless shift from the gentle warm-hearted “Full Of Love” to the more pensive and wistful “The Space Between,” which follows it.

Michele enters some deep and thoughtful emotional terrain on the album’s title track. This piece digs deep below the surface to uncover subterranean emotions, sometimes quite intense, as in the middle section. While it doesn’t reflect the sunny ambience of some of her other music, it truly highlights Michele’s talents as a composer and pianist. “Undercurrent” provides a rich and rewarding listening experience from a stellar artist who truly deserves all the acclaim she has been receiving. I have no doubt that Michele McLaughlin is someone we will be hearing more about as she builds a legacy with each successive release.

To read a full length review of this CD, as well as others, please visit:
Rating: Very Good +
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