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Awareness Magazine
5753-G Santa Ana Canyon Rd. #582
Anaheim, CA 92807
(714) 283-3385
(800) 758-3223
(714) 283-3389 Fax


By Michael Diamond

Various artists/ produced by Will Ackerman

The Gathering


The Gathering is a compilation or “sampler” of 22 artists presented by Grammy-winning recording artist and producer Will Ackerman, who gained international recognition as the founder of Windham Hill Records, and as a pioneer of the acoustic new age music genre. The tracks on this CD were produced and recorded by Will at his famed Imaginary Road Studio in Vermont. Many of the songs include session work from his stable of world-class musicians such as Michael Manring, T Bone Wolk, Jill Haley, and Tony Levin, among others. Having reviewed the CD’s by a number of the artists on this compilation, including Jeff Oster, Kathryn Kaye, Fiona Joy Hawkins, Shambhu, Ann Sweeten, and Todd Boston I’ve had the opportunity to speak to some of them directly, and have heard glowing praise about their experience of working with Will Ackerman.

The music on this collection is diverse and includes solo piano, duets, and larger ensembles, ranging from earthy folk melodies to world music influences. Although there is not room to go into detail on specific tracks, as a whole The Gathering is a harmonic convergence of outstanding talent and a tribute to one of the preeminent producers in music today.

Catherine Andrews

Visions — The Art of

Catherine Andrews (DVD)


It’s been over 25 years since Catherine moved from England to Southern California where she still lives and pursues her artistic endeavors, which include painting, stained glass, film, and even recording an album of celestial new age music. The appropriately titled, Visions, offers a retrospective into the life and work of this gifted visionary artist. There are two parts to the DVD, which Catherine co-produced with Christopher Toussaint. The first is a nearly hour-long documentary filmed at her home and in LA-area art galleries where she talks about the inspiration behind her paintings. The second part is a 36-minute “music art gallery” which provides a continuous flow of Catherine’s artwork set to a soundtrack of her music.

The subject matter of Catherine’s paintings covers a wide spectrum, yet an aura of spirituality is always present. Some of her work has strong elements of romanticism, sacred sensuality, and mythology. Providing glimpses into other dimensions is central to Catherine’s work, which includes mystical visions of heavenly realms, angels, Goddesses, and spiritual beings. I enjoyed gaining a deeper perspective about Catherine as the talented artist and beautiful person that she truly is.

Todd Boston

Touched By The Sun


The term “world-class” gets thrown around a lot these days, yet in some cases it is well deserved. Todd Boston’s new release, Touched By The Sun, is certainly one of those cases. In addition to his jaw-dropping guitar work, the CD is a collaboration of some of the top talents in this genre of music. Even more so than his debut album, Alive, which garnered critical acclaim and extensive radio airplay, his new release incorporates extensive and intricate ensemble playing and a diversity of world music influences. The production on this CD is a work of art in itself, although not surprising coming from the studio of Will Ackerman, an undisputed master of recording and producing acoustic music.

Todd’s music draws from a variety of influences and combines the distinctive sound and spirituality of the East with the guitar innovations of the West such as the use of electronic effects, alternative tunings, and the advanced fingerstyle techniques of people like Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges. In addition to guitar Todd plays flute, bass, and a number of Indian music instruments. Touched By The Sun is a pan-cultural musical masterpiece that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend.

Celtic Dreamer

Chris Conway


Multi-instrumentalist Chris Conway has integrated Celtic influences into an ambient new age context to create a blissful soundscape that is supremely relaxing. In fact, as Chris says, “One of the aims of this album is to provide music with a Celtic ambiance for relaxation and to aid sleep.” Having listened to this CD, I can attest to the fact that it has achieved its goal — it is indeed quite lovely and restful. There is also a mythological theme to the album in its telling of a Celtic tale about a princess who becomes a swan every other year, which is described track by track in the liner notes.

On Celtic Dreamer Chris plays Irish tin and low whistles, piano, keyboards, zither, guitar, percussion, and more. Also participating are a number of other musicians on Celtic harp, violin, guitar, and wordless female vocals. This release on the excellent Paradise Music label (www.paradisemusic.us.com) is only one of a staggering 80 CD’s he has released either solo or with bands covering a wide range that includes pop, rock, folk, jazz, world, new age, ambient, and electronic. Celtic Dreamer is a gorgeous recording that is sure to please fans of Celtic and new age music alike.

Carl Weingarten



As one of ambient music’s most innovative guitarists, Carl Weingarten has been crafting his unique sonic tapestries for three decades. While his recordings are guitar-based, he often takes the instrument in expansive and experimental directions that defy categorization. It can be quite atmospheric, giving some of his work the feel of an impressionistic soundtrack with the guitar creating lush sonic clouds that could easily be mistaken for synthesizers.

Part of his sound comes from the use of electronic effects, which are essential ingredients in the mix. Also in his arsenal is a technique known as “looping,” that allows an artist to generate multiple layers of sound on sound, stacking melody and rhythm on the fly, creating spontaneous compositions. Pano-morphia consists of seven tracks, three of which are layered solo performances and four that are collaborations with some of the most talented musicians in the Bay area including world-class bassist Michael Manring, drummer/percussionist Celso Alberti, and award-winning recording artist Jeff Oster on trumpet and flugelhorn. The description of the music as “deep space jazz” hints at its direction which also includes elements of ambient and electronica, with occasional excursions into more exotic and esoteric terrain.

Michael Diamond is a music producer, recording artist, and music journalist in the San Francisco Bay area with over 30 years of experience writing for nationally-published magazines and more recently worldwide on the internet. He currently has five CD’s including two with new-age music pioneer Steven Halpern. For additional reviews of CD’s, DVD’s, and more, please visit: www.michaeldiamondmusic.com