MUSIC & MEDIA REVIEWS
PETER KATER & R. CARLOS NAKAI
their rich history of recording together, pianist Peter Kater and Native American flute
virtuoso R. Carlos Nakai
have once again joined forces on their first joint release in over a decade.
The album also features accompaniment by Paul Winter Consort alumni, Paul
McCandless on soprano sax, English horn, and oboe, Jaques Morelenbaum on cello,
who is best known for performing with Sting, and the ethereal vocals of Trisha
Bowden. One of the things I was most impressed with is the stylistic diversity
and brilliance of Peter’s piano work. Being the foundation instrument in this
grouping, he did a stellar job of providing the musical terrain for the other
musicians to walk upon. R. Carlos Nakai is an undisputed master of the Native
flute and any project he graces with it is uplifted by it. The interplay
between these two and their accompanists on Ritual is pure magic.
Mesa Verde Soundscapes
Mesa Verde Soundscapes is the latest release from wind instrument
maestro Jill Haley, and is her third album in a series that centers on National
Parks. Inside the glossy eco-package is a beautiful full color 15-page booklet
with photos of the places in Colorado’s Mesa Verde National Park that
inspired the song titles, along with a descriptive sentence or two about each
photo. It is quite lovely and is a wonderful companion to the music within.
Jill is best known for her evocative work on English horn and oboe but she is
also quite an accomplished pianist as evidenced by her playing on these tracks.
Joining her on some pieces is her husband David Cullen playing guitar and bass,
as well as by Dana Cullen on horn, cellist Graham Cullen, and
Risa Cullen on viola.
Beautiful music, lovely photos, and Jill’s personal reflections make for an
inspiring presentation about a national treasure.
COULSON & CHRIS CONWAY
Spirits of the Mermaids
Spirits of the Mermaids is an enchanting album of Celtic music based on a
tale of a mermaid who falls in love with a human man. Over the course of
thirteen tracks, the plot unfolds as told in song by Mo Coulson on her Celtic
harp, accordion, and vocals along with collaborator Chris Conway on Irish
whistles, keyboards, guitar, zither, flute, vocals, and percussion. Additional musical
guests also add their Celtic-inspired colors to the mix. As detailed in the
liner notes, the story is inspired by tales of Melusine,
a mermaid who appears in much mermaid mythology, and draws upon the theme of
impossible love between the people of the land and those of the sea. I
especially enjoyed listening to this album from start to finish with headphones
to be fully immersed
in the lush aqueous soundscapes created within this imaginative and entrancing
Life Under Stars
music can often be ethereal and meditative, however, guitarist Carl
Weingarten’s version here is an upbeat top-down cruise to the beach. While his
music has been called “cinematic jazz,” certainly an expansive categorization,
it’s not quite broad enough to describe all its elements and nuances. His use
of slide guitar and dobro in an ambient context is groundbreaking, and
transcends the blues and Americana roots they are generally associated with. In
Carl’s hands they become textural instruments that add exotic sonic colors to
his unique soundscapes. In addition to his multi-instrumental talents, Carl’s
sterling choice of accompanists is part of what makes his music so incredibly
cool. There is really no one else who sounds quite like Carl Weingarten. His
style is adventurous, exploratory, and intriguing, and to be able to create a distinct
sound in today’s crowded music market is an accomplishment in itself.
pianist and composer, Louis Colaiannia has always brought a variety of
influences to his previous recordings, including jazz, classical, and new age.
On Closer, however, Louis sharpens his focus, while expanding his horizons with
recording that gravitates much more fully toward the new-age side of the spectrum. And to help
him toward that end, he has chosen to work with one of the icons of the genre —
Grammy award-winning producer and Windham Hill Records founder Will Ackerman, and his roster of
world-class studio musicians for accompaniment. As much as I loved Louis’
previous blend of up-tempo jazz and contemporary instrumental genres, I think
that this more focused approach will serve to expand his audience and the
album’s commercial success. The music is contemplative and introspective
throughout, making it perfect for someone who wants to put on an album to set a
mood for either focused listening or background music.
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