Sunday, January 22, 2012

CD Review – Heavy as a Feather, by Kathryn Kaye

Kathryn Kaye’s second album lives up to its title, offering a collection of gentle piano-based compositions that soothe the soul.

The CD offers a nice balance between solo piano performances, moving duets, and full but not overbearing band accompaniment.

Kaye is joined on this outing by such studio stalwarts as Tony Levin on bass, Eugene Friesen on cello, Charlie Bisharat on violin, Jill Haley on English horn, Michael Manring on fretless bass, Tom Eaton on accordion and percussion, Ramesh on percussion, and producer Will Ackerman on guitar.

Kaye is as masterful in her restraint as she is in the vernacular of the keyboard, knowing when to give in and when to hold back, yielding a satisfying listening experience. And her musical collaborators provide solid support without ever upstaging the proceedings.

The result is a delightfully rich and engaging concoction that is a sight for sore ears.

--Raj Manoharan

Saturday, January 21, 2012

CD Review – The Tree and Other Stories, by David Hoffman

Multi-instrumentalist David Hoffman has pieced together a musical pastiche that masterfully blends jazz, folk, new age, and ambiance, resulting in a hypnotically mesmerizing listening experience.

The former Ray Charles band member lays down ethereal textures and funky grooves with synthesizers, over which he plays tantalizing but tastefully minimalist jazz-fusion trumpet solos. Hoffman also spices up this already delicious mix by adding in piano and flugelhorn, as well as voice, sampled programming including bass, percussion, and harmonica, and the sounds of nature.

Further support is provided by Hoffman’s trusty collaborator Paul Adams, an accomplished and versatile solo artist in his own right who lends his indisputable skills on hulusi and Native American flutes.

All of these elements coalesce into a subtle yet sonically rich musical mosaic that does indeed tell several captivating stories.

--Raj Manoharan

Saturday, January 14, 2012

CD Review – Sleep: The Dreaming Flute, by Paul Adams

Flute master Paul Adams brings his considerable talents on woodwinds to bear on this grand, sweeping exploration of all the moods that can be achieved by the instruments.

The eleven-track CD is a soothing, relaxing collection of tunes that express everything from somberness and reflection to positive thinking and hopefulness. To achieve this effect, Adams utilizes a different Native American flute on each song.

The result is a sound that is not only calming and reassuring, but also reflective of the various sounds of indigenous culture and tradition.

Listeners looking for music to summon the muses of the world of sleep and take them to the soporific shores of the subconscious will find that Paul Adams’ woodwinds are the flutes that dreams are made of.

--Raj Manoharan