Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Top 25 Albums for April 2018

TM LM PKArtist Name Album Title
1 81 Nouveau Papillon Enchantment Blooms
2 - 2 Michael KollwitzSerenity II
3 - 3Joseph L Young Every Moment
4 - 4Nitish KulkarniListen 
5 4 4 Michael Whalen  Kiss The Quiet 
6 5 5Trine OpsahlAdd Colours To My Sunset Sky 
7 10 7Peter Kater ft. Peia LuzziShe
8 - 8Terry Lee Nichols & Rebekah EdenWe Have Only Come To Dream
9 - 9 Symphonex Orchestra Music That Tells A Story
10 - 10Pamela Whitman & Richard Kurtz Ancient Vision
11 13 11 Johann JohannssonThe Mercy
12 14 12 Mari SamuelsenNordic Noir
131613 Heidi BreyerMoonlight In Empty Rooms
14 18 14 Brian Kelly Tomorrow's Daydream
15 25 15Oscar Pascasio Sensaciones 
16 -16 Vicente AvellaRising
17 - 17 Richard Dillon Terra Incognito
18 - 18 Neil PattonSolitaire
19 - 19 Mark DunnMelodic Voyage
20-20 Dan Kennedy Mountains Made of Shadow,
Anthems Made of Light
21 1 1 James Asher & Arthur HallDrum Distillery 
22 2 2 Terry Oldfield & Soraya Temple Moon
23 66Valerie Romanoff Healing Music, Volume 2
24 19 19 Michael LogozarStarlight 
25 20 20Lynn Yew Evers Sunset Breeze

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Spotlight: Moonlight in Empty Rooms by Heidi Breyer

Music and imagery have long complimented and even depended upon one another, with both artistic expressions often enhancing the perception that one has upon the other. Titled Moonlight in Empty Rooms, the latest album by pianist-composer Heidi Breyer beautifully embodies this wonderful creative synergy. Inspired by the fine art of acclaimed painter Alexander Volkov, the album is comprised of twelve pristinely elegant and emotionally reflective compositions. Each piece is accompanied in the liner notes by one of Volkov’s gorgeous paintings, while Breyer is joined throughout by distinguished violinist Charlie Bisharat, who lends an additional classical element to the compositions. Both Breyer and Volkov wrote the album’s poetically beautiful liner notes, while the album itself was produced by Breyer, Will Ackerman and Tom Eaton, with Eaton having engineered, mixed and mastered the final recording. Also included is a DVD of music and paintings that can be further appreciated in tandem.

The opening piece, “Unfinished Conversation”, seemingly begins like an ending, or perhaps that of picking up at some point from where having left off. Wrapped in a sentimental poise, the lovely composition is tenderly carried along by the graceful pairing of piano and violin – each lingering note like a gentle brushstroke upon an aural canvas. The next couple of pieces, “Autumn Snowfall” and “Autumn in Bruges”, make for a lovely pair – both rendering sonically their respective paintings that are detailed in the liner notes. “Autumn Snowfall” – a composition centered upon the seasonal transition of Fall to Winter – conveys a more contemplative, solitary mood – while “Autumn in Bruges” comparatively relates a feeling of personal interaction and romantic companionship with its serenading semi-waltz motif.

The album’s title piece, “Moonlight in Empty Rooms”, is a pinnacle moment of compositional beauty and emotional expression. One of my favorites, I especially love the wistful touch of the violin which beautifully compliments the flowing dynamism of the piano, as the piece ebbs and flows with alternating currents of languor and liveliness. Transitioning into the Spring season, “Eastertide” aptly captures a sense of joyful peace as sparkling notes convey sunshine rays and blossoming fields. The following piece, “Rainy Day”, feels both contemplative and leisurely, with its languidly-paced piano and solemn procession of violin.

Another favorite composition is the second-to-last track, “Faith”, which is also the lengthiest at just over eight minutes. A song of searching and steadfastness, this distinctly classical-flavored piece is comprised of four variations that give it a metamorphosing and journey-like quality. Likewise showcasing some of Heidi’s most impressive piano work, cascading keys are brushed lightly by tender violin throughout – ultimately resulting in a memorably heartfelt and prepossessing composition.

Cozily intimate, romantic and even nostalgic at times, Moonlight in Empty Rooms is a calmly introspective album that feels connected to the home and its immediate surroundings of seemingly quaint towns and natural countryside. In addition to Heidi Breyer’s own compositional gifts and command of the piano, Charlie Bisharat’s enchanting performance on violin takes these lovely pieces to another level of appreciation – with the marriage of these two instruments proving all that was needed to make musical magic happen! ~Candice Michelle

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

Friday, May 4, 2018

Spotlight: Beautiful Song by Anne Trenning and Friends

Beautiful Song is the fifth album by instrumental pianist and composer Anne Trenning. Comprised of eleven piano ensemble pieces spanning approximately thirty-nine minutes, the album highlights a talented team of musicians along the way who variably contribute instruments such as violin, flute, accordion, cello, flugelhorn, saxophone, guitar, mandolin and percussion – with familiar artist names including Bill Leslie, Jeff Oster and Ciro Hurtado. Six of the compositions are originals written by Anne Trenning while the other five are renditions of classic tunes by artists such as Neil Young, Maurice Jarre and others.

The album opens on a welcoming bright note with the title piece, “Beautiful Song”, which features a sweetly melodic ensemble led by a duet of piano and violin. Perfectly capturing the radiant warmth of a noonday sun, romantic and classical elements are laced with Celtic overtones, as the lovely composition waltzingly graces along to a gentle sway.

My favorite song on the album is the Santana cover, “El Farol”, which possesses a Mediterranean-style elegance. This romantic piece immediately stands out with its pristine infusion of Spanish guitar and flowing piano, of which aptly conveys a low-key lounge feel – like that of experiencing a nocturnal breeze on the seashore. I’m also particularly fond of the more reflectively tender “Do I Hear Christmas?” – an original composition which features accompanying cello and flugelhorn that appropriately lend the piece a subtly forlorn touch. Also noteworthy is “Miller Gap”, which showcases both Celtic and renaissance musical elements. It's of the cheeriest songs on the album, featuring a festively classical assortment of piano, strings and Celtic flute. Likewise intriguing is the Darrell Scott cover, “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive”, which feels evocative of an old-west saloon with its characteristically country and western style piano-to-rhythm motif.

Closing out the album on an inspirational note is the minute-long Chris Rice cover, “Go Light Your World”, which features a sentimental blend of piano, strings and saxophone.

A most charmingly elegant album comprised of classical-infused contemporary instrumental music, Beautiful Song seemingly takes its listener on a quaintly scenic tour across both European and American countryside. I especially enjoyed the colorfully instrumental variety among the compositions that each guest musician contributed along the way, as well as the album’s balanced offering of both sunnily uplifting melodies and peaceful moonlight serenades! ~Candice Michelle

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

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Spotlight: Every Moment by Joseph L Young

World-flute master and keyboardist Joseph L Young adds a soulfully refreshing element on his latest album, Every Moment, which follows his enchanting 2016 album, Ethereum. Having formerly played saxophone in the smooth jazz group Mobius Trip (that he co-founded), Joseph again pulls out his sax and gets creative on his latest album, which draws upon influences of jazz, new age and ambient/electronic music. Comprised of twelve compositions spanning approximately 62 minutes, sax is the lead instrument throughout, as Joseph adds synthesized layers and keyboards, gentle percussion and subtle world music touches along the way. Centered upon a theme of time, the compositions overall feel timeless, musing and imaginative. Guest musicians include world flutist Cornell Kinderknecht on “Time Traveler” and violist Lisa Bittick on “Chronos Dreams”.

“Prism” opens the album with a subtle rhythmic pulse that underscores a soothing sax melody accompanied by synthesized vocal layers. A whimsical touch of Irish whistle joins the piece about half-way through, as both earthily sensual and dreamily spacey textures are woven among what could essentially be described as the quintessential ‘space-jazz’ composition. The next piece, “Falling Through Time”, is easily my favorite on the album. True to its title, the composition seemingly bridges the past, present and future, while its dusky atmosphere simultaneously evokes images of mysterious ancient landscapes and modern city nightlife. Processed lyrical vocals lend the piece a subtle synth-pop flair amid a sensual ensemble of soulful sax, ambient textures and tribal-esque percussion.

Another one of my favorites is “Vicariously Blue”, which features sax alongside Native American flute within an echoing chamber of organic-style percussion and low-humming chords. Another especially outstanding composition is “Letting Go”, which initially opens with gentle spoken word courtesy of Rona Yellow Robe amid a subtle shamanic pulse. Her vocals soon extend to mantra-type singing, which pleasantly reminds me of the lovely Deva Premal. It’s followed by “Eleventh Hour”, a notably intriguing piece that’s somewhat set apart from the rest with its comparatively more digitized effects and crunchy, quasi-industrial beat.

Meeting at the crossroads of new age, ambient and contemporary instrumental music, Every Moment will certainly appeal to a variety of listeners. Particularly, it brings-to-mind the more romantic space-jazz music of Jonn Serrie (think Ixlandia, Lumia Nights or Spirit Keepers), as well as saxophonist Paul Winter, thereby recalling some great “new age” classics. A mesmerizing album sure to be among this year's favorites, every moment of Every Moment is certainly time well spent! ~Candice Michelle

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

Aural Awakenings: Episode 14 (An Earth Day Special)

00:00 / Patrick Kelly / The Wonder of Creation / In a New Light
06:17 / Johannes Linstead / Heaven Meets Earth / Azul
10:00 / Max Highstein / Earthtones / Flying Not Falling
16:26 / AO Music / Terra / Asha
20:03 / Llewellyn / Magick of Trees / Walking with Merlyn
27:00 / David & Steve Gordon / Sunlight Through the Trees / Reiki Healing Light
32:19 / Peter Kater / She Awakens in the Garden (Abridged Remix) / She
36:47 / Sherry Finzer / Earth / Sanctuary II: Earth
44:18 / Christine Brown / Forest for the Trees / Ascend
48:53 / Robert Thies & Damjan Krajacic / As the Earth Awakens / Blue Landscapes II: Discoveries
53:58 / Jon Richards / Earth and Sky / Gaia

Friday, April 13, 2018

Top 25 Albums for March 2018

TM LM PKArtist Name Album Title
1 51 James Asher & Arthur Hull Drum Distillery 
2 9 2 Terry Oldfield & Soraya Temple Moon
3 6 3Eugene Friesen The Essential Collection
4 - 4Michael Whalen Kiss The Quiet
5 - 5 Trine Opsahl  Add Colours To My Sunset Sky
6 - 6Valerie Romanoff Healing Music, Volume 2
7 11 7 Neil Tatar After The Rain
8 - 8Nouveau Papillon Enchantment Blooms
9 2 2 Todd Boston One
10 - 10Peter Kater ft. Peia Luzzi She
11 16 11 Anne Trenning Beautiful Song
12 17 12 Pam Asberry Seashells In My Pocket 
13-13 Johann Johannsson The Mercy
14 - 14 Mari Samuelsen Nordic Noir 
15 21 15Kaveh Karandish  Silent Whispers 
16 -16 Heidi BreyerMoonlight In Empty Rooms
17 22 17 John Dahlander  Songs For Smiler McGee
18 - 18 Brian KellyTomorrow's Daydream
19 - 19 Michael LogozarStarlight 
20-20 Lynn Yew Evers Sunset Breeze
21 1 1 CantusNorthern Lights
22 24 22 Christine Brown  Ascend
23 -23 Anaya Music Aonki: Gateway of Love
24 - 24 Jim PearceA Piano Story
25 - 25Oscar Pascasio Sensaciones 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Spotlight: Seashells In My Pocket by Pam Asberry

Pam Asberry is a composer and solo pianist who knew from an early age that she wanted to pursue a career in music. Classically trained from the age of seven, Asberry eventually led a church choir from organ and completed a master’s degree in music. On her debut album, Seashells In My Pocket, Asberry reflects upon the many beautiful islands and coastal cities she has visited by relaying the memories of her experiences through 13 alluring solo piano instrumentals. Contemporary and modern yet imbued with a definite classical touch throughout, the compositions are overall gently uplifting and major-key with occasional minor-key injections along the way.

Each composition is given a picturesque name inspired by a coastal landscape or seafaring moment captured in time, with some of them seemingly drawing upon fantasy and folkloric themes via evocative titles like “Mysterious Caverns” and “The Mermaid’s Tears”.

Cozumel is a Caribbean island off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Channel for which the opening piece, “Cozumel Blue Waters”, is named. Beginning in a lightly brisk manner, the piece immediately imparts a calm yet sunny mood that perfectly lends itself as the first stop on this coastal getaway.

Moorea is a stunning island in the Pacific located just northwest of Tahiti and one of my favorite pieces on the album, “Moonlight Over Moorea”, aptly conveys the kind of romantic mystique that one could easily imagine an evening spent there might entail. Next, we travel all the way to the Atlantic Caribbean with “Dunn’s River Falls”, another favorite piece of mine that’s named for an enchanting waterfall located in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Seemingly carried along by a steady and powerful undercurrent, the melody appropriately cascades up-and-down the registers in a manner expressively illustrative of the waters that flow upon the fall’s naturally terraced rock formations.

The second-to-last piece, “Ocean Stars”, feels elegantly nocturnal with a notably neoclassical bent. Flowing delicately in the upper registers, the piece deftly mimics the twinkling of stars, as one might imagine themselves standing by the sea while gazing upon the night sky. The final piece, “Sailing Home”, boasts a softly sweet and simple melody that perfectly signals the conclusion of a fascinating journey, with the return to the comforts and familiarity of home soon drawing near.

Beheld as a magical realm throughout much of humanity, the sea has long been a muse for many artists, likewise having bestowed Pam Asberry with a reservoir of creative inspiration in this most lovely collection of musically-rendered mementos! ~Candice Michelle

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