Sunday, April 29, 2012

CD Review – Live at the Q, by Fiona Joy Hawkins and The Blue Dream Ensemble

Pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins and her band perform several of Hawkins’s compositions at a live venue in her native Australia.

In a live setting, some artists either deviate from their original recordings deliberately or wing it entirely, which is fine depending on the artist. However, Hawkins and her cohorts perform the numbers with such precision and intrinsic intensity and concentration that you wouldn’t realize this was a live recording, were it not for the applause of the audience.

Hawkins is in top form at the keyboard, and her collaborators are on the nose as well. The Blue Dream Ensemble includes Rebecca Daniel on violin and vocals; Andy Busuttil on percussion, wind instruments, and vocals; Dave Ellis on double bass; and John Napier on cello. There isn’t a sour note on the CD. The players give the music every bit of the attention it deserves, gently finessing every subtlety and nuance of Hawkins’s lyrical compositions.

The compositions and the performances are gentle and relaxing. Their easygoing nature coaxes the listener into a state of thrall. As a result, this CD not only provides a pleasant listening experience but is also perfect for letting your cares drift away.

--Raj Manoharan

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