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.)

TIME / ARTIST / TRACK TITLE / ALBUM TITLE
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.)

TIME / ARTIST / TRACK TITLE / ALBUM TITLE
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

Album Review: Stairway to Nirvana by Samir Bodhi

Review by Abdul Yamani


Recording and producing under his artist’s name, guitarist, composer, producer and recording engineer Samir Bodhi has released his début album in the World/New Age genre titled Stairway to Nirvana in which the Indian-born resident of Southern California, masterfully fuses Eastern (Indian) classical music and instruments with modern Western styles.

An accomplished and internationally recognized scientist and scholar, with a PhD in Computer Science under his real name Samir Chatterjee, he skillfully applies his expertise in academia to his work as a musical artist. “I feel I have quite a bit of creativity in me and part of it manifests through my academic research and the other via my musical outlets”, says Bodhi.

Samir and his ensemble of exceptionally talented and successful performers and musicians, delicately craft a melodic, rhythmic, and spiritually transcendent album that offers a musical roadmap to peace and serenity in these troubled times.

Samir expresses his purpose for the album with words of gratefulness and compassion: “Stairway to Nirvana is a project that fulfills my vision for creating beautiful music that brings serenity and enlightenment to people of all cultures. I am indebted to my incredible collaborators for blessing me with their tremendous talent and unique ideas. Music has the power to be a great healer of the body, mind and spirit, and beyond providing a meaningful listening experience, I would love this album to serve as a healing agent for people during this challenging time in world history.”

Embellished throughout with haunting melodies, exquisite vocals, electric guitar, hypnotic sounds of the sitar and synth-generated droning, against a backdrop of flowing rhythms, earthy percussion and messages of peace, Stairway to Nirvana gently invites us to ascend a musical ladder by which we reach a state of transition and completeness, or “nirvana”, through music and meditation in which all external influences seem to disappear; separating the listener from the physical world as the listening experience seems to charge the soul with pure and transporting energy. Samir weaves a delicate thread that crosses from loss and pain, to joy, tranquility, and peace.

In "Tranquility", the first track on the album, the flute collaborates with the sitar and beautiful stringed arrangements, gently offering you space to reflect outside of the noise and chaos of the present world. Samir chose to make the flute the center and heart of the melody, attracting you to an interesting dialogue between flute and flowing rhythm.

"OM" like a sacred symbol is a sacred sound which introduces you to an esoteric, meditative experience. The vocals are mesmerizing; almost entrancing.

"Harmony", my favorite piece on the album, is where Eastern and Western styles masterfully intertwine; its profound, deep tones of electric guitar and bass combine with sitar and piano to lure the listener into a sultry, down-tempo harmonic exploration of the senses that dazzlingly recalls the music of Bombay Dub Orchestra.

In the track that follows we move gently to the path of “Peace” we all seek, accompanied by guitar and western influences, in this enchanting melody beautifully sung by Madhumita Chatterjee, Samir’s wife and renown Bollywood singer.

The final track “Nirvana” mystically transports the listener through the journey of life with its joys and sorrows to our ultimate destination of true enlightenment and eternal bliss.

Listening to and reviewing this album was an indescribable pleasure. The music truly conveys a state of tranquility, harmony, and peace.

We thank Samir Bodhi and his friends for this beautiful album, and eagerly await his future artistic releases. To learn more about this incredible artist, please visit his website at SamirBodhi.com

~Abdul Yamani for Aural Awakenings 

Stairway to Nirvana is also available at Amazon, iTunes and more.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Album Spotlight: High Wind Blue Sky by David Lindsay

Review by Abdul Yamani


Composer and guitarist David Lindsay is an artist known for his simple and distinctive style. His soothing melodies seem to have a natural ability to deposit a sense of peacefulness in the heart of the listener and calm the soul.

David’s vast repertoire of compositions have been featured on radio and television throughout North America, Great Britain, Europe, and Australia, with two of his previous album releases having garnered award nominations.

For his latest album High Wind Blue Sky, David called on an impressive ensemble of well-known and established musicians to complement his talents, such as Grammy Award winner Eugene Friesen on cello, multi-instrumentalist Jill Haley on English horn, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Jeff Haynes on percussion, nu-jazz trumpet player Jeff Oster on flugelhorn, and Tom Eaton on piano and bass.

Will Ackerman, founder of Windham Hill Records and owner of Imaginary Road Studios in Vermont where the album was produced, provides beautiful acoustic guitar leads. The album, High Wind Blue Sky offers a moment of pause from the distraction and noise of our present world. Poignant tracks like "Slow Walk Home", "Birds", "A Summer’s Breeze", "Little Wing" and "Sea Swells" take the listener on a ruminative walk on the shore of the imagination. David’s guitar strings are like the waves that caress your feet as they gently imprint your thoughts on the soft warm sand. Wordless female vocals, courtesy of Noah Wilding, also an accomplished artist, sweep you away in the tracks “Slow Walk Home” and “Sea Swells”. The beautiful song arrangements, acoustic arpeggios, airy vocals, musical sequence, and sublime harmonics all perfectly come together, masterfully creating a colorful motif of reflection and serenity.

Sweet feelings of love, joy and gratitude come through from an adoring father to his child in “For Margot”, a song David wrote for his daughter. Memories envelope the listener as songs of friendship and time tenderly conclude the album.

~Abdul Yamani for Aural Awakenings

For more information please visit the artist's website. High Wind Blue Sky is also available at Amazon and more.