& MEDIA REVIEWS
By Michael Diamond
Fiona Joy Hawkins
600 Years In a Moment
The latest release from Fiona Joy
Hawkins highlights her flowing grand piano compositions and vocals accented by
ancient world instruments. Fiona’s concept is to bring instruments and their
unique sounds from villages across the globe to explore the hidden musical
treasures of cultures in a modern musical setting. The album is eclectic,
acoustic, beautifully produced, and spans genres with influences of new age,
jazz, classical, and world music, featuring an all-star list of accompanists.
A number of the songs begin with solo
piano before being joined by other instruments and I appreciated that it
provided a contrast and the opportunity to experience Fiona’s playing and
melodic sensibilities on their own before flowing into a collective musical
pool. The album is a masterful mélange of superlative musical performance,
stunning contemporary composition, and widely-diversified cultural influences.
Preceded by a string of award- winning recordings, Australian recording artist
Fiona Joy Hawkins has outdone herself with this release and continues to set
the bar ever higher in the unfolding of her creative potential. Watch for her
U.S. tour September/November 2013.
The Blue Rose
A recording like “The Blue Rose” is
something I cherish because, as a “concept album,” it tells a story, both
musically and in the liner notes and artwork, taking you on an imaginative
journey from beginning to end. Traces of delicate Asian sounds tint the
picture, enhanced by elements of classical and new age music, with much of it
having a cinematic air about it. Although Al performed most of the wide variety
of instrumental sounds heard on the album, a few special guest artists lend
their talents to the mix.
Given Al’s record for composing and
producing award-winning music, including his Grammy-nominated “Northern Seas”
album, I expected to be impressed, and I was certainly not disappointed. “The
Blue Rose “is a luminous telling of an enchanted story. From his compositional
mastery to his impeccable musicianship and productions skills Al Conti has been
emerging as a major figure in the new age music genre. I am sure that this new
release will only serve to further enhance his growing reputation.
Sounds from the Circle V
The New Age Music Circle is an online
community with approximately 1500 recording artists and fans. For five years in
a row, they have put out a compilation of member’s recordings and made it
available to press and radio programmers on a 40-song MP3 disc as well as to
the public as an iTunes playlist from which they can download individual
tracks. The compilation is the work of new age music pioneer, Suzanne Doucet,
who is also the creator and organizing force behind the community. Also
contributing to this project is Beth Ann Hilton, a well-known LA music
The music on the compilation is quite
diverse and covers many New Age sub-genres including meditation, nature, solo
piano, vocals, electronic space music, chill, and more. One great thing about it
being available as iTunes downloads
is you can preview any track
individually and decide which ones you would like to purchase for 99 cents
each. A link to the playlist can be found at: http://newagemusik.ning.com/.
It’s a wealth of wonderful music from world-class talent.
Like their previous releases, “Hokulea”
is a rich blend of powerful world music rhythms, female vocals, ancient ethnic
and contemporary electronic elements, and children’s choirs from around the
globe. This group is composed of three primary members: Richard Gannaway
(stringed instruments and vocals), Jay Oliver (keyboards and synth samples),
and Miram Stockley (vocals) who is best known as the voice of the group
Adiemus. In contrast to the earthy primal beats are Miriam’s ethereal Enya-like
vocals floating above the rushing rhythmic current. The complexity and
production of this album is astounding and it stirs my imagination to think
about what went into creating these songs.
AOMUSIC is truly one of the most unique
groups I have encountered in my 30 years as a music journalist. Not only is
their music in a class by itself, but the humanitarian work they are doing with
their non-profit foundation on behalf of underprivileged children around the
globe is a shining example of what can manifest when art and Spirit combine
with heartfelt dedication.
I would imagine that there are a
relatively small percentage of musicians who actually make the instruments they
play. Stephen DeRuby is one of them, with over 40 years’ experience as a
musician and craftsman of beautiful high-quality Native American-style flutes.
While Stephen is well known for his Native flutes and music, his latest CD, “Awakening,”
expands his vision and is more of a World flute recording that expresses his
global musical influences which range from East Indian ragas to Native
American, African, Middle Eastern, Latin, and Oriental music.
In addition to sultry flutes, the album
also includes languid guitar, dulcimer, tambura, tabla, chants, and gentle uplifting
rhythms, performed by a number of talented guest musicians. There is a lot of
Eastern influence woven in throughout the album, however it is often mixed with
other styles that create a cultural melting pot which brings to mind artists
such as The Paul Winter Consort, Ancient Future, Michael Brant DeMaria, and
others. “Awakening” is an inspired album, both musically and spiritually.
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
“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician.
I often think in music. I see my life in terms of music.”
— Albert Einstein