Saturday, August 7, 2010

CD Review -- Inner Voyages, by Christopher Boscole

As the title and the cover artwork – a lone figure rowing a canoe in the middle of a vast sea – suggest, Christopher Boscole’s latest collection of solo piano recordings takes listeners on a quiet excursion into the deep solitude of the soul.

Boscole’s intent here is not to impress with his range and ambidexterity, but to gently transport the audience to another dimension beyond the visceral and tangible. Boscole succeeds greatly in his desire to create a musical buffer zone of dreaminess, transcendance, and imagination.

While the whole album is soft and gentle in feel, it really sojourns into otherworldly realms in the second half. “Princess Taiping” has a slightly Oriental affect to its airy chords; “Land of Sea and Sky” and “Sea of Spirits” conjure the mysticism of water and air; “Memories of Satie” is an appropriate tribute to the minimalist composer.

The most affecting track on the album is “Om.” While it does not remind me anything of the Buddhist utterance, it comes the closest of any cut on the album to being pure New Age jazz, and, as a result, it becomes a spiritual meditation of its own. Set against swirling clouds of piano chords, Boscole’s lead piano line seems to be in search of a melody, slowly and steadily constructing one as it goes along. Whether deliberate or not, this makes the tune very much in the spirit of improvisation and makes it a fitting metaphor for anyone’s personal journey, whatever it may be.

There’s plenty on this disc to keep lovers of solo piano music, New Age, and jazz engaged and enlightened.

--Raj Manoharan

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