Saturday, May 18, 2019

Aural Awakenings: Episode 30

Artist – Track – Album & Buy Link
Shambhu – Dream Walk – Lilac Skies
Christopher James – Get on with It – Grace from Persistence
John Otott – Sunrise in Avalon – Unspoken
Timothy Wenzel – Makes You Wonder – Running Away
Stephen Wallack – Cooper’s Song – Chapters
Incendio – Blue Bolero – Summoning the Muse
Dimitri K. – Inferred – 7/8
Pam Asberry – Nebula – The Presence of Wonder
Andy Iorio – Arise – Awakening
Mikuskovics Baum – Life Land – Timeless
Dan Rufolo – Idea Factory – Jazz Meditations
Robert Linton – Weaving Through the Waves – Adrift in Wonder

Monday, May 13, 2019

Presenting Lilac Skies by Shambhu

Well-known among both jazz and new age music circles, acclaimed guitarist Shambhu amps up the pizazz on his latest album, Lilac Skies, which features some bluesier electric guitar licks alongside soothing acoustic ensemble arrangements. Playing lead guitar as well as bass and keyboards, Shambhu is joined throughout by a handful of guest musicians, who variably lend additional bass, drums, percussion, organ, keyboards, EWI, flute, lap pedal, steel guitar, and even vocals on one track. Melodically engaging and lively, yet perfectly suitable for relaxing and unwinding to, Lilac Skies beautifully conveys the blossoming colors and fragrances of the warmer seasons. Sure to be a summer favorite, the album will appeal to many lovers of both smooth jazz and contemporary instrumental music! ~Candice Michelle

(Available on Amazon and other retail and streaming platforms.)

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Presenting Chapters by Stephen Wallack

Stephen Wallack exudes supreme poise and professionalism on the piano, with his exquisite album Chapters seemingly playing out like a sonic diary of nostalgic life experiences and scenic rural travels. Artfully intricate yet accessibly down-to-earth, his expressive compositions flow with continuity like an endless, winding river. If there’s one recent album I’d mostly highly recommend to fans of George Winston, it would be this one! ~Candice Michelle 

(Available at Amazon and other retail and streaming platforms.)

Thursday, April 25, 2019

An Interview with Lisa Swerdlow at the Heart Dance Records Summit in Phoenix, AZ

Here’s an interview with solo piano composer Lisa Swerdlow, which was conducted at the recent Heart Dance Records Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. In this segment, we talk about her musical upbringing and eventual return to composing and recording following an extended hiatus, as well as the inspiration behind her most recent album Voyager.

Music from the albums Voyager and Equus Rising can be heard throughout this interview.

Album Review: Guide Me by Samer Fanek

Coming off the heels of his acclaimed debut album is Polish-Jordanian pianist, keyboardist and composer Samer Fanek with his sophomore release called Guide Me. Like its predecessor, these eleven elegant compositions range from expressively epic to pristinely peaceful while spanning styles of neoclassical, contemporary instrumental and at times even orchestral rock. Although Samer arranged and produced this album at his home studio in Daly City, California, one might get the impression that it was recorded with a live performance ensemble due to the imposing symphonic characteristic of the compositions.

Appropriately, the album opens with a piece called “Grand Opening” that lends itself to a classical-rock motif. Almost a third of the album is fashioned in this more dramatic style including the title piece, “Guide Me”, which showcases beautifully rippling piano figures in the higher register accompanied by a wistful waltzing stanza. Pieces such as these would bode exceptionally well as a grand stage performance complete with live orchestra.

The album also features three reflective solo piano pieces, which includes “Long Time Ago”, “Guardian” and the final cut, “Back to Hometown”. However, Samer seems to hit a perfect sweet spot on compositions that lie somewhere in-between the two contrasting moods. My absolute favorite of these is “Newborn”, which seemingly conveys a nostalgic reminiscence, and in my view, is Samer’s most impressive musical piece to date. You could say it’s like his “One Man’s Dream”, which should come as no surprise given that Yanni is one of Samer’s most noticeable influences.

Ringing true to the album’s title, Guide Me seems to have been guided by a divine hand throughout its creation. Often wrapped in tender elegance, Samer’s compositions speak to some of life’s most cherished memories – births, weddings, anniversaries and reunions – as well as the intermittent trials that everyone faces along the way. Particularly recommended to fans of Yanni, Nobuo Uematsu and the classical crossover genre, Guide Me is an album of hope, potential and purpose that elevates Samer Fanek to the next level as a composer! ~Candice Michelle

For more information please visit the artist's website. This album is also available at Amazon, Google Play and CD Baby.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

An Interview with Darin Mahoney at the Heart Dance Records Summit in Phoenix, AZ

Here’s an interview with guitarist Darin Mahoney who describes his style as “heart and soul music”, which was conducted at the recent Heart Dance Records Summit in Phoenix, Arizona. In this segment, we talk about his musical roots, collaborative projects and a major life challenge that ignited a renewed artistic vision for him.

Music from the albums Transformation and Trialogue can be heard throughout this interview.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Aural Awakenings: Episode 29 (An Earth Day Special, Vol. 2)

Artist – Track – Album & Buy Link
Steve Gordon & Deborah Martin – Earth Dweller – Selections: Deborah Martin
Marcia Watson Bendo – Planting Moon – Woodland Moons
John Tinger – A Walk in the Woods – Between Two Worlds
George Winston – The Good Earth – Restless Wind
Medwyn Goodall – Sungrass – Earth Goddess
James Asher & Arthur Hull – Island Farewell – On the Good Foot
David Nevue – The Wind Blows Where It Wishes – In the Soft Light of Grace
Michael Kollwitz – Crystal Caverns – Serenity III
Scott Reich – Earth and Sky, Light and Love – Instar
Greg Maroney – Dreaming Tree – Secrets of the Sea
Ken McGarity – Sky to Earth Song – Breath of Life
Rémi Orts Project – Algae – Peaceful Moments (The Ocean Story)