Saturday, October 30, 2021

Aural Awakenings: Episode 49 – A Peaceful Soundscape for Autumn

A refreshing 2-hour blend of new age, world & contemporary instrumental music!

0:00:20 / Carl Lord / Castle Pathways / Stillness
0:03:03 / Nancy Shoop-Wu / Golden Leaves / Full Bloom
0:06:18 / Pam Asberry / Wind / Twelvemonth
0:09:25 / Kristen Miller / October / Cello Journeys
0:14:56 / 2002 / Wind Dancer / Hummingbird
0:20:23 / Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy / Mosaic 2 / Ravenna
0:27:20 / Wouter Kellerman & David Arkenstone / First Rain / Pangaea
0:30:30 / Opium Moon / Messengers / Night + Day
0:37:40 / Jeff Pearce / Not Even the Sky / In Autumn
0:40:50 / MK Sol / Fire on the Mountain / Night’s Edge
0:45:00 / Dallas David Ochoa / Moonlit Passage / If These Walls
0:48:40 / Raphael Groten / Great Spirit / Potential
0:54:28 / Dave Eggar / Fallen Leaves / Awakening
0:57:46 / Todd Mosby / Into Starlight / Aerial Views
1:03:40 / Paul Avgerinos / The Ethereal Light / Peace
1:09:34 / Album Spotlight: The Winding Way by Peter Sterling
1:10:49 / Peter Sterling / Clouds in the Sky / The Winding Way
0:17:01 / Ann Sweeten / One Last October / Change is in the Wind
1:22:10 / Holland Phillips / Wolf Moon Rising / Eleven After Midnight
1:25:39 / City of Dawn & Sherry Finzer / They Turned into Starry Skies / Solace
1:29:10 / Deuter / Blue Horizon / Song of the Last Tree
1:37:30 / Will Ackerman, Jeff Oster & Tom Eaton / Three Trees / Brothers
1:42:38 / Pam Asberry / October in Paris / Focus Zone
1:46:40 / Rick Sparks / Autumn Rain / Bella
1:51:03 / Lynn Tredeau / Meadowlark / A Quiet Path
1:54:30 / Sarah Jane Hargis & Matt Hubbard / Wood / Elements

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Album Review: The Winding Way by Peter Sterling

Review by Lissette Cascante 

The unique and calming sounds of the harp are again masterfully presented in acclaimed harpist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, visual artist, author, and producer Peter Sterling’s latest album The Winding Way. Peter began playing the piano at age 6. Life took Peter in many directions, distracting him from his authentic purpose, but eventually as he listened more closely to the yearnings of his heart, he was drawn to the Celtic harp and the healing arts. Peter embraced his true calling and in 1994, he released his first album Harp Magic with instant success. Since then, his music has garnered many accolades and awards, and spanned both the global plain as well as the “heavenly realms” through airplay on international platforms such as Pandora, SiriusXM and Soundscapes, and on major airlines. 

Composed & produced by Peter Sterling for Harp Magic Music (BMI), The Winding Way is the product of a year’s worth of work; isolated from the world during the lockdowns, Peter reached deep into his heart and soul to bring forth a loving and beautiful compilation of divinely inspired compositions designed to help bring peace and healing to a hurting world.

As we listen to his songs and learn about Peter’s amazing life journey, we can definitively conclude that the title of the album was consciously selected. For as Peter states, “life… is a meandering journey down the Winding Way with many unexpected twists and turns along the path to the destination of our hopes and dreams.”

The poignant titles and songs such as “Deep Dive”, “Calling Angels”, “Along the Way”, “Every Which Way”, “Hope for Tomorrow”, and “A Love That Lasts” seem to diffuse a sense of tranquility and a knowing for our life’s journey; evoking the calm assurance that no matter the outer circumstances, our innermost being can stand strong in the face of adversity on the foundations of love, hope and peace; the essence of who we are as spiritual beings having a human experience.

Ornamented with wordless, Enya-style vocals throughout, pieces like “Beauty Abounds”, “Clouds and Sky”, “Rose Petal Tea”, “The Noble Night”, and “The Elven Queen” take the listener through a rhapsody of the senses to a world of natural wonders and Celtic fantasia. 

Peter Plays a custom-made Lyon and Healy electric Troubadour Harp. Additionally, he plays keyboards, percussion, free-note chimes, and contributes vocals on the album, while G. Dov Gertzweig supports with violin, Richard Hardy on silver and bamboo flutes, and Hans Christian on the Cello. The album was mastered by Eric Boulanger at The Bakery Sony studios in Culver City.

If you like the ethereal timelessness of the late, great Hillary Stagg, as I do, you will find Peter’s angelic harp artistry similarly enthralling, transporting, and elevating. Plug it in to study by, or to meditate, sleep or just anytime to set the right ambience to recharge your reserves and refocus your energy. Empty your mind of all the clutter and let The Winding Way help guide you to that beautiful place of calm assurance.

~Lissette Cascante for Aural Awakenings 

For more information, please visit Peter Sterling's website. The Winding Way is also available at Amazon, Apple Music and more.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Aural Awakenings: Episode 48

A refreshing 2-hour blend of new age, world & contemporary instrumental music! (Photo credit: Tim Kuret Photography.)

0:00:00 / Shunia / Har Har Mukanday / Ascend
0:05:30 / Kelly Andrew / Humanity / Revelation
0:09:58 / Wouter Kellerman & David Arkenstone / A New World / Pangaea
0:14:07 / Peter Sterling / Beauty Abounds / The Winding Way
0:17:58 / Jill Haley / Vista at Valles Caldera / The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier
0:23:32 / Carl Weingarten / What the Raindrop Saw / Ember Days
0:29:03 / Stephen Edwards / Midnight Fear “Jen’s Theme” / Piano Music from Movies You’ve Probably Never Seen
0:32:03 / Michael Whalen / Lights of Home / Future Shock
0:37:09 / AO Music / Little Watchers / Kutumba
0:47:33 / 2002 / Rainbow Cove / Hummingbird
0:47:05 / Bill Leslie / Golden Eagle / Celtic Peace
0:50:30 / Jeff Johnson & Phil Keaggy / Mosaic 1 / Ravenna
0:57:22 / Rick Sparks / Bella / Bella
1:01:29 / Darlene Koldenhoven / Delphi’s Dream / The Grand Piano Spa
1:05:36 / Album Spotlight: Heart Awakening by Shambhu
1:06:43 / Shambhu / Infinite Eyes / Heart Awakening
1:11:05 / Johannes Linstead / In the Stillness of Love / Bohemian Strings
1:15:15 / Mediaeval Baebes / Domine Lesu / Prayers of the Rosary
1:18:44 / Kristen Miller / Meeting God in Heavy Boots / Cello Journeys
1:22:08 / Josefine & Trine Opsahl / Picking Flowers / The Infinite Between Us
1:26:45 / Deuter / Evening Gratitude / Song of the Last Tree
1:34:27 / Dallas David Ochoa / Cliff House / If These Walls
1:37:34 / Ciro Hurtado / Camino / Luna
1:41:36 / Ann Sweeten / Turning the Page / Change is the Wind
1:45:50 / Holland Phillips / Lights Off / Eleven After Midnight
1:48:55 / Lia Scallon / Tibetan Skygods / Return of the Star Elders

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Album Review: Heart Awakening by Shambhu

Review by Abdul Yamani 

Acclaimed jazz guitarist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer Shambhu (pronounced 'SHOHM-boo') has an impressive background in diverse styles and genres, and an extensive list of big-name collaborations. He worked with Grammy winning record producer Will Ackerman on his 2010 debut album, Sacred Love, which topped New Age music charts, and has recorded with the likes of Carlos Santana, Jeff Oster, Whitney Houston, Paul McCandless, Michael Manring, Frank Martin, Premik Russell Tubbs, and Todd Boston, just to name a few.

Shambhu’s 5th album Heart Awakening (Soothing Guitar for a Peaceful World) released on his birthday anniversary, May 31st, 2021, in the New Age, Jazz and Contemporary Instrumental genres once again demonstrates his high level of skill, precision, smoothness and mastery of the guitar. The album’s easy flow comes from his desire as he puts it “to uplift, center, and ground” the listener with music which conveys a peace much needed in these uncertain times. With a unique and powerful method of combining music and the meditation practice, Shambhu mindfully allows his intuition to guide his musical creations. In past interviews Shambhu has shared that he visualizes beautiful places which he’s visited that have inspired him. He explains that when he closes his eyes, he tries to feel the essence of the spirit allowing it to flow through him so that he can pass that feeling on to his listeners and they too can visualize what those places felt like for him.

The title track opens the album with Shambhu’s tranquil acoustic guitar illuminating our way to a serene place within. Refreshingly rustic, I felt the calmness of the piece speaks to the listening heart encouraging the soul to awaken to new possibilities.

The second track “Infinite Eyes” features talented musicians Geoffrey Menin on piano, and Matteo Palmer on electric guitar with Shambhu playing both acoustic and electric guitars, bass, and e-sitar. It’s a vibrant musical symphony with variations of audible and visual interest which seem to effectively harmonize the mind, body, and spirit.

“Preparing for flight” takes on a jazzier style and tempo encouraging movement, playfulness, and soulful adventure. This piece features a variety of fun instruments such as marimba, flute, alto sax, teamed up with piano, guitars, drums, and percussion.

“Little B’s Poem” with its capturing piano-led melody complemented with Shambhu’s electric guitar and bass in a lovely sequence has a jazz flair that I really like.

Sax and acoustic guitar are paired exquisitely on the album’s last track, “Song for You”. Tubbs’ saxophone shines on this cheery duet for guitar and sax, a special gift to every listener in a gesture of friendship. This ingenious album provides an uplifting listening experience lighting a path to renewed hope and joy.

~Abdul Yamani for Aural Awakenings 

For more information, please visit Shambhu's website. Heart Awakening is also available at Amazon, Apple Music and more.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Album Review: Piano Music from Movies You've Probably Never Seen

Review by Marilyn Torres 

On his latest CD Stephen Edwards takes us back to the movies (and a television show plus a couple of documentaries), to explore some pieces from lesser-known film work spanning from the early ‘90s to the present.

The CD is organized chronologically along the composers’ film score career. The first two tracks, from the film Midnight Fear, display Edwards’ command of the piano with decisive in-step key playing in “Bed to Hayknife”, to the careful and slow cascade of “Jen’s Theme”.

Each successive piece forms an overall picture of somber and ominous situations where the listener can imagine a character regretting a relationship, as in “The Minister’s Wife” and “Illegal in Blue”, or confronting an enemy as in “Nocturne of the Sea” and “Piano and Innocence”.

In “Man With a Gun”, Edwards embraces a jazz flair reminiscent of the film The Firm from the John Grisham novel where the tone and pace of the piece reflect a sense of urgency surrounding the characters’ decisions. The jazz model returns in “Requiem for My Mother Stride Piano” but in a quirkier style.

There is a vein of resignation to the uncomfortable, whether it is due to forces outside of our control such as the droids in “Armed and Deadly” and “Project Shadowchaser” or fears from within as in “Heaven or Vegas”, the somber “Theme From Romeo and Jewel” or “Intervention Main Title”, that runs through these compositions, giving them a unifying design.

Through these works, Edwards shares his gift of translating a feeling or a mindset from the visual, and taps into the human need for relationships and the complex repercussions from such need.

~Marilyn Torres for Aural Awakenings 

For more information, please visit Stephen Edwards' website. Piano Music from Movies You've Probably Never Seen is also available at Amazon, iTunes and more.

Monday, August 16, 2021

Album Review: Sapphire by Marya Stark

Review by Lissette Cascante

Marya Stark is a vocalist, composer, storyteller, songwriter, performer, and multi-instrumentalist who seems to have mastered the art of transforming herself into many muses or goddesses through her music, dramatic style, and lyrics. In this context, her latest album, Sapphire, a collaboration with Joshua Penman of Akara consisting of 10 songs, tells the story of an intimate and mystical journey of heart exploration and renascence bringing into play the many stages and emotions experienced in one’s earthly or other-worldly existence.

“Sapphire”, the title of the album and of the fourth track, was a deliberate and conscious choice. The precious gemstone gets its name from the Latin and Greek word for blue and is believed by many to emanate energies that help bring peace and harmony to the wearer. The album compositions with its lush vocals, engaging lyrics, organic and digital instrumentations, and masterful arrangements of strings, acoustic guitar, piano, horn, drums, and percussion, seem to do just that as the dreamy and lively tunes succeed in infusing indie folk and dream-pop styles with ethereal and elevated substance.

The album begins with “Echo”, a beautiful and fluttering song of love and luminous stars amidst a backdrop of strings and piano. We dance with the Northern Lights in “Stargazer” in pursuit of mysteries and deeper meaning.

Beautiful vocal work and soft flowing guitar caress the listening ear as the lovely and catchy chorus of “In Between” carries this piece; a favorite of mine since first hearing the song and viewing its accompanying lyric video online. “Blood of the Stones” presents a luminescent piano sound along with Marya’s exquisite high vocals which lead into an arrangement of guitar and drums creating images of intensity and passion.

More sublime musical aesthetics and vibrant lyrics present in the songs that follow such as in “Celestial Butterflies” where guitar and cello dance around each other in a world music environment leading the listener to diverse landscapes.

“Negra Luz” with its beautiful Spanish lyrics has a mystical intro and echoey bells encouraging the listener to reach a harmonic balance between darkness and light, pain and joy, in this musical passage.

Each song on the album seems to radiate an aura of wonder, mystery, and magic. Sapphire is truly a delightful escape from the cares of the present world; a musically resplendent listening experience sure to calm the soul and brighten any day.

~Lissette Cascante for Aural Awakenings 

For more information, please visit Marya Stark's website. Sapphire is also available at Amazon, Bandcamp and more.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Aural Awakenings: Episode 47

A refreshing 2-hour blend of new age, world & contemporary instrumental music! (Photo credit: Tim Kuret Photography.)

0:00:00 / AO Music / Nashu / Kutumba
0:04:27 / Timothy Wenzel / Opening / Dusk to Diamonds
0:10:29 / Peas feat. Vanessa Britting / Looks Like Heaven / Morning Café
0:15:06 / Andrew Colyer / Oliver’s Journey / Mists of Time
0:20:14 / Johannes Linstead / La Taberna / Bohemian Strings
0:25:01 / Shambhu / Heart Awakening / Heart Awakening
0:30:27 / Michael Whalen / La Hermosa Noche / Future Shock
0:36:07 / Strunz & Farah / Jardin / Guitar Greats: The Best of New Flamenco
0:40:36 / Bill Leslie / Iona / Celtic Peace
0:45:47 / Bodhi / Alone / Deep Dream
0:52:58 / Darlene Koldenhoven / Wisteria / The Grand Piano Spa
0:56:23 / Blackmore’s Night / The Twisted Oak / Nature’s Light
1:00:33 / Jill Haley / Fantastical Formations / The Canyons and Mesas of Bandelier
1:04:35 / David Lindsay / Slow Walk Home / High Wind Blue Sky
1:08:50 / Luis Perez / Sleeping Woman / Relax
1:14:15 / Timothy Crane / Waterfall Secrets / Halo
1:19:06 / Dean Evenson, Scott Huckabay & Phil Heaven / Colors of Inspiration / Healing Resonance
1:24:03 / Mythos / Bonum et Malum / XXV
1:28:09 / Kendra Logozar / Suspend / Equilibrium
1:30:47 / Lia Scallon / Call from the Heart / Return of the Star Elders
1:37:04 / Peter Sterling / This Path I Walk / Sanctuary of Light
1:46:25 / Charles David Denler / Mid Summer’s Intermezzo / Portraits in Season Live
1:49:23 / Tom Moore & Tim Sadow / Listen to Your Heart / Looking for the Timeless